Mary Jane Gething on Research at the James Lab
  Mary Jane Gething     Biography    
Recorded: 16 Jan 2003

Anyway to come back to Cold Spring Harbor. I wrote this grant and did thankfully get it. But James in those days was a sort of consortium. They’d always worked largely off the tumor virus grant so they just had as I understand it usually one big grant. And it was beginning that people would have additional grants. So I had one and John Fiddes had one and I think Steve Hughes had a separate grant. But it was decided that we would remain a consortium in a way. So I don’t know what the NIH would have thought of this but all of the money was pooled and we had one storeroom and so on. And if somebody needed carrying for a little while then the system would carry then and so. A fantastic system of doing science. And you don’t have to build walls between people’s lab and say that’s my bottle of sodium chloride and so on and so forth.

It mirrored the way that the scientific discussion went. That science was a shared enterprise in James and it was led by Joe and one of the things that it made it work was that Joe was always so generous with his ideas. In fact he said ideas are free. So he didn’t feel that he should be an author just because it was his idea. And it was a generosity of spirit that sort of percolated through the way that the lab worked. People collaborated, people helped each other. They didn’t necessarily feel that , you know, because they gave one enzyme that they—the way it seems to be so often now, you know, that one gift of antibody or an enzyme, people seem to think earns them an authorship, it’s garbage. You know you have to really contribute both intellectually and practically to work to be judged, to be an author, in my opinion.

Mary-Jane Gething, biochemist is Head of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Melbourne where she earned her Ph.D. in Biochemistry in 1974. Subsequently she went to Cambridge to do post-doctoral work.

In 1976, she moved to London to work on protein sequencing and in 1980, Gething and Joseph Sambrook received a NATO grant for travel to collaborate on virus research. She began working at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in 1982 where she continued her research of proteins. In 1985, Gething and Sambrook moved to Dallas to work at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. They moved back to Australia in 1994.

Her current research involves protein folding in the cell and the role of molecular chaperone BiP.