Michael Ashburner on CSHL Memories
  Michael Ashburner     Biography    
Recorded: 31 May 2003

Oh, I came here. I first came to the lab in 1970 for the symposium. And that was a little bit tense because in June 1970, we were expecting our third child. And I already planned to take a few days off at a meeting in Holland, in the Netherlands. And about three weeks before the meeting I got this letter from Jim asking me to speak at the symposium, I was a kid, you know. It was a very great honor. So I negotiated with my wife. So I came to the symposium in 1970 and gave a talk. Then during the symposium Dave Hogness, who is kind of my uncle, my scientific uncle, who I have a great admiration for in Stanford. Dave Hogness talked me into going to the nucleic acid Gordon Conference which was the week afterwards. By the Wednesday my nerve gave out, so I flew home and got home on Thursday and Isabel was born on Friday. So I just made it. I could have been in deep trouble otherwise.

But I may have met Jim at Cambridge before that. I can’t remember. And I’ve been coming to the lab for one reason or the other ever since 1970. And I think this is the fourth symposium that I’ve talked at. 1970, 1973, 1985 and this. But in the 1970’s, I taught here a lot. We had a—Joe Gall and Mary Lou Pardue and a group of us ran a cytogentics course here, a lab course, I think every summer. I can’t remember now. So I used to come for that.

I co-organized a meeting here on heat shock here in the 1980’s, 1983, I think, I can’t remember. It was published as a yellow book. And then I’ve had three books published by the [CSH] Press. Well, actually four with the heat shock book, two, which I edited. And for the last twelve years or more I’ve been teaching at Banbury every two years and I’ve been coming to genome informatics meetings. I nearly come two or three times a year.

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).

Michael Ashburner