John Cairns on The Paul-A Mutant
  John Cairns     Biography    
Recorded: 14 Jul 2000

…Paula DeLucia was my technician. She came straight to the Lab. She was recruited by Rick Davern—came straight to the lab from high school—was an absolute natural. Defended the lab like a tigress so that the major chemical supply companies were terrified of her. She worked very hard to isolate the mutant and it was named after her. I asked Julian Gross who helped with the genetics. I said we really should do something to commemorate Paula’s enormous contribution to that and he said, “We’ll call the mutant “PAUL-A” and if you pronounce it the right way it will be called “Paula.”

John Cairns, physician and molecular biologist, received his degree in medicine from Oxford University in 1946. Cairns worked as a virologist at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, at the Virus Research Institute in Entrebbe, Uganda and at the Curtain School of Medical Research in Canberra.

From 1960-61, Cairns spent his sabbatical at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory under Alfred Hershey. He returned to serve as director of the Lab from 1963-1968, while continuing his research on DNA replication and initiating the technique autoradiography. During Cairns’s tenure, he saw Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory officially form from an amalgamation of the Long Island Biological Association’s Biological Laboratory and the Carnegie Institution of Washington’s Department of Genetics. Cairns remained a staff member until 1972 when he was appointed head of the Mill Hill Laboratory of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund. Cairns subsequently worked at the Harvard School of Public Health until his retirement in 1991.

In addition to Cairns’s scientific endevours, he is also one of the editors of Phage and the Origins of Molecular Biology.