Recorded: 09 Apr 2001
So Sydney’s experiences at Cold Spring Harbor were probably eighteen years before mine, and I think modern science was at a different stage, as were Cold Spring Harbor and South Africa and England and other places that Sydney had been associated with. No, I think my introduction to modern science was at Harvard. Cold Spring Harbor basically provided, in a sense, a home away from home. It was a place that was focused on science; it was a place that was separate from the rest of the universe, but I don’t think it really introduced me to modern biology. It introduced me to a lot of people and certainly to a lot of scientific problems, but I think already at Harvard, as a student with the people who were there and the seminars that were taking place, it was there I became introduced to the field.
H. Robert Horvitz received his Ph.D. in 1974 from Harvard University, under the tutelage of Jim Watson. He joined the MIT Department of Biology faculty in 1978, and was named David Koch Professor of Biology in 2000. He is also Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and was appointed Investigator at the McGovern Institute in 2001.
Horvitz is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and a recipient of the Gairdner Foundation International Award, the Alfred P. Sloan, Jr. Prize from the General Motors Cancer Research Foundation and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Achievement in Neuroscience. In 2002, he was award the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine with Sydney Brenner and John Sulston “for their discoveries concerning 'genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death'."
Horvitz currently studies how genes control the development of the nervous system and how the nervous system controls behavior. He has elucidated a molecular genetic pathway for programmed cell death (apoptosis), which is fundamental to nervous system development in all animals.