David Lane on A Unique Atmosphere at CSHL
  David Lane     Biography    
Recorded: 04 Jun 2001

Doug Hanahan, remember that [Jim] Watson had heard that Ptashne had some particular result with SV40 small T. The word filtered down and if Doug and I could reproduce this result in time for some meeting, that we would be handsomely rewarded. So we were in there all night trying to get this thing to work, didn’t manage, but, we tried. I think it was a unique atmosphere. I’ve never seen anything quite like it since. It was that combination of people, that sense that they could do anything, and fun and enthusiasm. It’s hard to put your finger on it. A feeling almost tremendous. You felt you were part of something really exciting. It was great! It was wild; it was enormously challenging, because all sorts of stuff was going on. People were changing their partners pretty regularly also. There were a lot of activities, there were parties, there was a maximum amount of science as well.

I think the nice thing is the atmosphere. I think that everybody here senses what’s being done is worthwhile and important. If you have that sense then the whole place works. It’s good in Dundee [Scotland], where I am now, it’s a small town and science has become very important to that place because it’s where the jobs are coming from. It’s where the prestige is coming from. We have a bit of the same atmosphere. Whereas if you were in London, the general conclusion is you must be really stupid to be a scientist because you work all these hours, you get paid no money, you’re not interested in golf, what’s going on? Whereas here [at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory] and other places you have a very strong sense [that] what you’re doing is worthwhile and the people who you interact with feel that it’s important.

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.