Karin Moelling on Cold Spring Harbor Symposia and Jim Watson
  Karin Moelling     Biography    
Recorded: 06 Jun 2006

And one or two years later I was here on a big symposium and I remember that Temin, Baltimore, and many others reported on reverse transcriptase, it’s properties and there were some papers shown up on the screen and they said this enzyme has two components; it’s not only one subunit, it has two subunits and the second one is what I mentioned, something like a sigma factor, so it’s a host factor. And I saw Jim Watson, I said, ‘Dr. Watson I don’t believe it, I have seen this enzyme in my [unintelligible] gel and if I wait a month or two the band disappears and a slower one shows up, so the two bands are related. So the two subunits come one, the smaller one rises from the bigger one.’ And I said, ‘I put a little protease on top to speed up this process.’ He looked at me, he said: ‘Do you have data? Do you have a slide?’ I said ,‘Yeah, I have a few slides.’ ‘Can you make it in five minutes?’ ‘Yes, I can make it in five minutes.’ ‘You give a talk.’ So that paper was in the symposium volume, but why I tell this story is two months later Jim Watson called me in Berlin and he said, ‘Karin I remember you were talking about the small subunit being part of the big subunit, now I have all of the sudden four papers where they claim they have found the small subunit as part of the big subunit, wasn’t it you? That they changed their minds?’ I said ‘Yeah, I think they changed their minds, but apparently they believe the story.’ So that was very interesting.

Karin Moelling currently retired professor, still affiliated with the University of Zurich and the Max-Planck-Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin. She studied molecular biology at the University of Berkely, Califonia. She received her PhD at the Max-Planck-Institute for Virology at Tübingen in Germany. She did two post-doctoral research at the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin (1973-1975), and at the Institute of Virology, University Giessen. In 1977 she received her Habilitation at the University of Giessen in Biophysics on "Replication of retroviruses".

From 1976 till 1981 she was the Head of Independent Research Group at Max-Planck-Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin, Germany, on oncogenes, proto-oncogenes, cancer and HIV. In 1993 she became the Director of Institute of Medical Virology (IMV) and Full Professor at University of Zurich in Switzerland, she held this position till 2008. Between 2008-2009 she was Fellow of Institute of Advanced Study in Berlin and between 2008-2011 she became a Group Leader, Viruses and Cancer at University of Zurich.

Her research focus on retroviruses and cancer from molecular mechanisms to drug design. She is a Member of the European Molecular Biology Organization. She received several awards e.g. SwissAward in 2007, 4 prices: Czerny Price, Richtzenhain Price, Meyenburg Price and Ansman Price. She was Selected as Heisenberg Fellow in German Science Foundation.