Recorded: 22 Mar 2003
Cold Spring Harbor is clearly a unique place. It’s actually interesting that there have been many formats for meetings over the years: Gordon Conferences, Keystone Meetings. And the one place that continues to survive and hold the very best meetings. And when people are invited to Cold Spring Harbor meetings they don’t turn them down. They do turn them down to almost all these other places.
And the reason is that the quality of the meetings and the facilities are unmatched. And again that’s Jim because when the meetings first started there, there was a crowded auditorium and a motel at the top of the hill where people stayed. Most people had to stay off grounds. In fact the first meeting that I went there I stayed at the, I wish I could remember the name of this. There is a little motel in Cold Spring Harbor.
Anyway, it was this motel in which you could actually stand in the room and touch the two walls. But, anyway, he saw that to really have successful meetings you had to have the facilities and so, you know, all of the new, both in Banbury where there are excellent facilities for living and for the meetings itself and on the grounds. And again Jim had an impact on everything. And he really chose the people to organize meetings. And he always was aware of what was hot in the field, who were the leaders, and who would be the best people to organize the meeting. And so year after year he started new meetings and if the symposia really became sort of a side issue after a while. That used to be the main event, but I think there are now so many meetings in RNA splicing, transcription, yeast, for a long time their nematode meetings, and so on. That it really became the center, international center for scientific meetings. And it remains that way. Both in terms of the living facilities and the quality of the meetings, it’s the best.
Tom Maniatis, molecular biologist, is a leader in the field of recombinant DNA. At Vanderbilt University he completed his Ph.D. studying DNA wide-angle scattering. He became a postdoctoral fellow and professor at Harvard University and met Jim Watson just before he became director of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.
While Maniatis was beginning experimentation with cDNA cloning and gene regulation of higher cells, the controversy over recombinant DNA in Cambridge stunted his progression. Watson offered Maniatis a position at CSHL where he could work more efficiently to understand the methods of recombinant DNA. At CSHL, Maniatis completed full-length synthesis of double stranded DNA and actual cloning of cDNA.
He is currently a professor of molecular and cellular biology at Harvard University studying the mechanisms involved in the regulation of RNA transciption and pre-messenger RNA splicing. He studies transcription to understand how eukaryotic genes are activated by viral infection and extracellular signals.