Joan Steitz on Post Doctoral Work with Francis Crick
  Joan Steitz     Biography    
Recorded: 04 Aug 2003

I mean the way I got to Cambridge was that my husband who is a protein crystallographer had arranged to go to the Mecca of protein crystallography and had set himself up with a postdoctoral position with David Blow at the MRC lab in Cambridge. And so I needed a place to go. So Jim wrote to Francis and said I don’t know what. And Francis said, “okay, she can come”. And actually it was very interesting. So when I got to the lab it turned out that there was really no space for me. And Francis said, “Well, why don’t you do a literature project in the library?” And I knew that my forte was not literature projects, but actually working at the bench. And so this put my in the situation of having to find somebody who would give me a pieces of bench space. And eventually Mark Bradshure who was one of the staff members in the Crick-Brenner division took pity on me and gave me that much bench space. Of course that was all the bench space anybody had. And that was how I actually began doing work.

Joan Steitz is a prominent molecular biologist who earned her Ph.D. under Jim Watson at Harvard University in 1967. She joined the faculty at Yale University in 1970 and is currently the Sterling Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and the Director of the Molecular Genetics Program at the Boyer Center for Molecular Medicine at Yale. She is also an Investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Steitz’s research involves determining the structure and function of small RNA-protein complexes.

She has received numerous awards including the National Medal of Science (1986), the Weizmann Women and Science Award (1994), the Novartis Drew Award in Biomedical Research (1999), the UNESCO-L'Oréal Women in Science Award (2001), and the Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Basic Medical Research (2002).