Merilyn Sleigh on Great Research Moment: SV40 Cancer Re
  Merilyn Sleigh     Biography    
Recorded: 17 Jan 2003

So what we actually discovered as these observations on the adenovirus alternative splicing of RNA were coming out was that we were actually looking at the same situations in SV40. So we were then similarly with another group based at ICRF [Imperial Center Research Fund] in London that was Ellen Smith’s group. So we came to the same conclusions about SV40 at the same time that there was an alternatively spliced messenger RNA coming off the t-antigen gene and that it was coding for this small t-protein. I think we perhaps concentrated more on that function of that protein; Ellen’s group concentrated more on the actual RNA splicing side. So we went on then to study the function of these deletion mutants that didn’t make this particular protein and were able to show that the small t-protein had a role in the cancer forming properties of the virus and cell transformation.

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.