Recorded: 03 Jul 2003
I’ll tell you why I came—it was quite difficult. In 1970, in the summer, we were having our last child Isabel who is now 33, who gets married in three weeks’ time. Francesca was pregnant and I had already agreed to go to a meeting in May in Holland, the Netherlands, an EMBO [European Molecular Biology Organization] meeting. About a week before I went to the Netherlands I got this letter from Jim Watson saying to come and speak at the Symposium. I was a kid and it was quite difficult because Francesca was clearly about to give birth.
I went to Holland and then I came here to the Symposium. When I was at the Symposium, David Hogness, who I’ll talk about later, said I should come to the nucleic acid Gordon [Research] Conference which he was arranging in New Hampshire. There were two or three days between the symposium and the Gordon [Research] Conference, so I went to Harvard, to a crazy party of a man called Charlie Thomas.
Michael Ashburner, a leader in Drosophila Genetics and bioinformatics, received his B.A. (1964), M.A. (1968), Ph.D. (1968) and Sc.D. (1978) from the University of Cambridge, where he is currently professor of Biology in the Department of Genetics and a Professional Fellow of Churchill College.
He has been the joint head of European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI), of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) and was co-founder of Flybase, the primary online database for Drosophila genetics and molecular biology, the Gene Ontology Consortium, an effort to coordinate biological databases through a defined taxonomy of gene function, and the Crete Meetings, a bi-annual event focusing on the developmental and molecular biology of Drosophila melanogaster.
Among many honors, he is the recipient of the G.J. Mendel Medal (Czech Republic 1998) and the George W. Beadle Medal (Genetics Society of America 1999).