Recorded: 17 Jan 2003
A few months after I arrived, not that long actually after I arrived there Joe went off on a sabbatical to ICRF in London, I think it was ICRF, it might have been Mill Hill actually. And so he was interested in learning about mouse embryology and he went to work with—in a lab there where they were doing that kind of work.
So I was left pretty much on my own from that point of view but by that stage I was working a little bit more where other people in the lab. I was working with Bill Topp who was doing a lot of the cell biology in relation to the SV40 mutants I was generating. and with a student Bob Hanish who was working between myself and Bob Tjian so I had something to do with Bob on those—or Tij as we called him. I don’t think I’ve ever called him Bob to his face. So working with Tij on these mutants as well. So the whole project in many respects had taken on a life of its own and so we used to talk to Joe on the phone or we didn’t have emails of course in those days, but mainly on the phone we would chat about what was happening and he’d have some input. And he would turn up occasionally and have a look around, see what was going on. And then of course towards the end of my time there, I think perhaps six months or so before I left, he was back and getting fully involved again. And I think that after I’d presented our results at the tumor virus meeting in probably September of ’77 we then wrote the work up for a Cell paper and I remember Joe was very much instrumental in getting that working. I mean he obviously inputs from several different people who’d contributed different bits of the project, but I do recall that Joe took fairly strong editorial control on the actually writing and of course the outcome was very nicely written and got accepted by the journal in a pretty straightforward way. So he clearly had an enormous skill in putting information together in an accessible way and an acceptable way. So that was terrific working with him on that paper as well
Merilyn Sleigh is a pharmacologist, molecular biologist and dean in the Department of Life Sciences at the University of New South Wales. After completing her Ph.D. at the University of Sydney in pharmacology and another PhD in molecular biology at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), she came to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to work under Joe Sambrook as a postdoctoral fellow researching the protein production of SV40. She returned to CSIRO, establishing one of the first laboratories in Australia using genetic engineering approaches to study influenza virus structure, evolution and gene regulation. She has become involved in developing the biotechnological industry in Australia. Sleigh is founding director of the Australian Biotechnology Association and is currently Chief Executive of EvoGenix, a start-up biotechnology company located in Australia.