Recorded: 04 Jun 2001
When you are first here all the meetings used to be in, was it Bush? [Bush Lecture Hall]. It was very small and very crowded and difficult because of that. But also the atmosphere—I think history is very important in science, a sense of place. The more modern it becomes the less you feel that connection, so it’s much more comfortable where we are now, but it’s not quite the same. The symposia are always special because of the quality of the people who come and the kind of intensity, it’s a long, nowadays, a very long meeting compared to what people usually do, so you get to know people better. It’s more comprehensive but, I suppose myself, I remember the meetings in general, rather than specifically the symposia. The meetings had a—when we were here you could go to any meeting, if you were on the lab staff, you just went to any meeting you wanted. It was amazing the education that you got, the people that you met. It’s just incredible. People are always coming through Cold Spring Harbor. When you work here—it’s just a phenomenal place to be because you meet all the great scientists of the day. In a sense, because you’re in the lab and you’re friendly with the senior people in your lab [so] you get introduced to all these people so you get to know things, and people in a remarkable way. [At] the symposia, a big thing that happens at those meetings, you really get to meet the people whose papers you just read.
The symposium has this huge history of very important things having happened and the [Cold Spring Harbor Symposia on Quantitative Biology] Volume is very important. When I was an undergraduate that was the book that you went to read, the Cold Spring Harbor Symposium Volume, because it summarized the field for you. So you had this big association with these big red books in the library and they were hard to get out because everyone wanted them. But again you feel that the touch of a big book like that and the sense of what it is, is important. You saw at this meeting [2003 Symposium: The Genome of Homo sapiens: Volume LXVII], people were quoting from the quotes that had been made in the meeting in 1986 [Symposium: Molecular Biology of Homo sapiens: Volume LI], which is the previous one they had on this topic. I mean, sixteen years, this or that will have happened. It’s important that people feel that sense of historical connection, I think as you get older and [have] been in science longer, you feel those things much more. When you start you don’t have such a strong sense of it. But now you may now be working on P53 for twenty years or something, you feel that historical connection is very important because you recognize where things come from. This is an important place.
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.