Tim Tully on Memories: Fresh Concrete
  Tim Tully     Biography    
Recorded: 01 Aug 2003

Well, I have several [funny stories]. I don’t know if I can tell them. One fairly innocuous one was that, maybe even at that same meeting, I think it was probably that same drosophila meeting in 1989 or another meeting like it in 1990, they were renovating Blackford. When we were back in Blackford bar one night after the meeting, there was fresh concrete being poured in the little patio area outside the bar door in the back. A colleague of mine by the name of Ross Cagan—I’ve never actually confessed who it was until now—Ross Cagan wrote in the fresh concrete: “Thanks a lot, Jimbo. TT,” because it was right after I had accepted the job to come here. So it was in 1990 and everyone knew it at that meeting, of course. So it was, “Thanks a lot, Jimbo.”

So the next time Jim saw me, he basically said, you asshole. Why did you write that in the concrete? I don’t know if they had already decided to cover that patio in slate by then, but certainly it was not long after before that concrete was covered with slate. And it’s a true story. I can show you the piece of slate to pick up to see what’s carved in that. So, anyway, he always thought that it was me that wrote that in the concrete. Of course, it wasn’t, I was a victim. I couldn’t. I wouldn’t rat on my friend. I said, Jim, all I can say is that I didn’t do it. So he goes, “Yeah, right.”

Tim Tully is a molecular geneticist, interested in finding the genetic and biological basis of memory in order to better identify pharmacological and behavioral treatments for memory loss. In 1981, he received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois. Tully joined the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory staff in 1991 to work on discovering genes involved with memory. He became the St. Giles Foundation Professor of Neuroscience and led the Drosophila learning and memory program. In 1998 he founded Helicon Therapeutics, Inc., a development-stage biotechnology firm that works on new therapies for memory loss and other cognition disorders. In June, 2007, Tully left Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to become Helicon's Acting Chief Scientific Officer, and assume a key role in the Michigan-based Dart Foundation as it expands its interest in funding neuroscience research.

His work on the transcriptional factor CREB gave way to the first experimental demonstration of enhanced memory formation in genetically engineered animals. Tully works to identify genes involved with long-term memory formation. Tully has determined that by the regulation of gene expression, new, long-term memories can be formed due to the growth of new synapses.