Recorded: 04 Jun 2001
They [the Nucleic Acid Group] were down in Demerec [Laboratory]. And they were considered, sort of a pretty, pretty substandard species of life, but occasionally we would be forced to mingle with them—there was Bruce Stillman, of course, who I got to know pretty well because he arrived about the same time as me and Mike Mathews. There would be interchange but there was definite rivalry. I mean there’s no question it was a strong rivalry between the labs and many stories—the one I heard—of course, all the best stories are always the ones you hear from other people because they were more developed [and] their relationship to truth has become more distant—the one I always enjoyed was one Phil Gallimore told me, which has to do with the early days of restriction enzymes. In those days restriction enzymes were gold because you couldn’t buy them, you had to make them. Rich Roberts made them and they had a very, very good woman who really produced the stuff, but in James they had developed a lot of the DNA that could be cut, and the gels. They used to be quite useful up in James to analyze the different fractions to see if the enzyme was good. Joe [Sambrook] told Phil to go down and get hold of, I think, EcoR1 and so Phil go this sample from Rich Roberts’s lab and he ran the gel and it was the best enzyme prep ever. One fraction of a molecule could cut this stuff and all the bands were razor sharp and it was fantastic. So Phil came and said to Joe, hey, look at this, fantastic, fantastic, [we] must go and tell Rich that this is a really good prep. And he said, put it in the fridge, and tell Rich it didn’t work. So that was James’s stock of EcoR1 for many years, it’s probably not true. But it’s a good story.
David Lane, immunologist, is the Director of the Cancer Research UK Transformation Research Group at the University of Dundee, Department of Surgery and Molecular Oncology at the Ninewells Hospital and Medical School in Dundee, Scotland. Lane founded the Department of Surgery and Oncology in the University’s Medical School with Alfred Cucheiri, one of the pioneers in minimal access ("keyhole") surgery. Currently on leave from the University of Dundee, he the Executive Director of the IMCB in Singapore. Lane is also the founder and Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board of Cyclacel, a Dundee based biotechnology company now listed on the NASDAQ. Shortly after receiving his Ph.D., he was recruited by Joe Sambrook to work at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory with the Tumor Virus Group in the 70’s, where he also completed one of his books on antibodies. In 2000, Lane was knighted by Queen Elizabeth of England for his many contributions to science. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of London, the Academy of Medical Sciences, and the University College London.