Waclaw Szybalski on CSHL Symposium, 1951: Genes and Mutations
  Waclaw Szybalski     Biography    
Recorded: 11 May 2001

The first symposia I attended was in 1951. This is ’63, I guess, no, this is ’53 [looking at symposium volume]. So 1951, “Genes and Mutations.” And that was in now what is now library in Blackford. Not library, well, Racker Room. That was [the] whole place. I was in charge of public address system. Which was very simple. So I was sitting and seat adjusting so they would not be too loud etc. It lasted, I guess, two weeks. There was one speaker, no, two speakers in the morning, afternoon free, one speaker at night. I guess three speakers a day. They had slides. But very, only few, normally it was all chalk talk on the blackboard. I guess there is still the blackboard there, which was going up and down, pretty crummy. Actually, I remember there was some, not on that, even on that symposium, that two scientists got into a big, strong argument cause they both had pointers and then at some moment they started to fight with the two pointers, Stellamatter (?) was one, from Philadelphia, and Vissick/Bissett (?) which was from Birmingham. England. They were ready to, seriously, they wanted to kill each other (laughter). It was a great discussion. Stellamatter was much bigger and much stronger than the British. But it’s all right. They were both wrong, but anyway. Cause they were at that time started trying to show by regular microscope that there were three chromosomes in E. coli or something like this. Yes, Luria was at the ’51. Evelyn Witkin give a talk, I remember very well. Hershey gave a talk at that symposium. There were several classical geneticists, Haggendorn (?), from Switzerland. I can’t remember everyone; I just remember that I was impressed. Demerec gave a talk, it was very good. It was very interesting things there.

Waclaw Szybalski is an authority on molecular biology, genetics and microbiology. He earned his Ph.D. at the Gdansk Institute of Technology in Poland and joined the University of Wisconsin in the mid-1950s where he is now Professor Emeritus of Oncology in the McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research.

Szybalski is known for the many significant contributions he has made throughout his career, beginning with his studies on mutagenesis and continuing through his contributions to genomics. He was among the first to formulate the concept of multi-drug antibiotic therapy.

Szybalski has also participated in the Human Genome Project.

Szybalski is the founder and head of many editorial boards including that of the journal Gene.

A long-time meeting and course participant at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Szybalski was a friend and contemporary of many pioneers in the field of genetics, including Alfred Hershey, Martha Chase, Max Delbrück, and Barbara McClintock.