Recorded: 03 Jul 2003
In the late ‘80s, Gerry Rubin approached me and said we should perhaps run a Drosophila genetics course together. He’d been talking to the lab here because Gerry had been an URP [in the CSHL Undergraduate Research Program]. And knows the lab very well and is known by the lab very well. Gerry and I are close friends and collaborate a lot subsequently to this. I don’t think David Stewart was here then. I can’t remember. But anyway, Terri [Grodzicker] was very much in the early setting up of this course. We decided that it would be a lecture course at Banbury. We did that first in 1990. Then the lab asked us to do it again and we said we’d do it every two years, not every year just because of the amount of work involved. We did it in ’92 together. Then I think for ’94 Gerry stepped down and Scott Hawley came in as the co-organizer. Last year we had Ken Burtis as well. [The] three of us running it. I’ve been doing it every two years since 1990.
It’s a lecture course, but it’s really kind of emphasizing genetic techniques for Drosophila rather than molecular techniques. We do discuss some molecular biology. And we get twenty very good students every year. It’s exhausting, absolutely exhausting. It’s a two-week course, and it’s nice. Banbury is a wonderful place to have a course. But I think the courses here have been very important. A lot of people come through. I’ve come in for the odd day on some of the other courses, but not very often. There’s a strong tradition here of the Drosophila course. There’s a Drosophila and neurobiology course and I’ve never taught on that. I’ve been around when it’s here. The lab does courses very well actually. It’s a very good function of the lab.
Michael Ashburner, a leader in Drosophila Genetics and bioinformatics, received his B.A. (1964), M.A. (1968), Ph.D. (1968) and Sc.D. (1978) from the University of Cambridge, where he is currently professor of Biology in the Department of Genetics and a Professional Fellow of Churchill College.
He has been the joint head of European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI), of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) and was co-founder of Flybase, the primary online database for Drosophila genetics and molecular biology, the Gene Ontology Consortium, an effort to coordinate biological databases through a defined taxonomy of gene function, and the Crete Meetings, a bi-annual event focusing on the developmental and molecular biology of Drosophila melanogaster.
Among many honors, he is the recipient of the G.J. Mendel Medal (Czech Republic 1998) and the George W. Beadle Medal (Genetics Society of America 1999).