Jerry Adams on Annual Rhinoceros Photo, Harvard University
  Jerry Adams     Biography    
Recorded: 15 Jan 2003

Well one amusing thing that was an annual event in the lab was the photograph on the rhinoceros. No doubt probably some of his other students have probably talked about this as well. It was an annual event that always happened in the summertime. And all the students would gather around in a row, on top of the rhinoceros. It was alleged by many that the reason for this photograph being done in this sort of odd way just outside the biolabs was that all the pretty young women would have to climb up on top of the rhinoceros exposing quite a bit of leg at the same time. I suspect that’s probably, definitely the case. But it was quite amusing and I hope someone has collected some of those rhinoceros pictures. There—it would be quite remarkable sort of bit of historical anecdotes to see the different ones over the years.

Jerry Adams, currently Professor and Joint Head of Molecular Genetics of Cancer Division of The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, is noted for his achievements in molecular biology, immunology and the molecular genetics of cancer. After completing his BSc in Chemistry at Emory University in 1962, he completed his Ph.D. at Harvard under James Watson. During this time, Adams and Mario Capecchi discovered the initiation mechanism for polypeptides. Adams earned his degree in 1967 and went on to do post-doctoral work at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England, where he met his wife, Suzanne Cory. They did further research in Geneva, and in 1972 joined The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Australia.

Adams and his research team have made many major contributions to medical science. They were the first to clone mammalian genes in Australia and discovered: (i) that antibody genes encode to recombine in a myriad of ways to fight infection; (ii) the genetic mutation that leads to Burkitt’s lymphoma and (iii) the connection between apoptosis and cancer, while studying bcl-2 gene in follicular lymphoma (with David Vaux).

Adams is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science (1986), a Fellow of the Royal Society of London (1992), a Fellow of the Royal Society of Victoria (1997) and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.