Recorded: 22 Mar 2003
I think that this short program is fantastic because there’s been a tendency at other places to let this stretch on for, you know, for example, in this department the average is six years, I think. And although it certainly takes a certain period of time for students to mature and to learn how to do science, I think forcing them to focus on their work in a different way is really important.
And when I was at Cold Spring Harbor they had students, but they were all from Stonybrook. And, you know, it was great for Cold Spring Harbor. It wasn’t too good for Stonybrook because they, you know, provided the students and didn’t get much in return. But it was clear at the time that there was such an outstanding group of scientists at Cold Spring Harbor that for any student to be in that environment would be great. And again it’s one of Jim’s great ideas that he put together and I think it’s terrific. It’s a wonderful place to do graduate work not only are there good people there and there’s good communication. There are constant seminars from the outside but they can actually go to meetings in the summer. You know, that’s wonderful. If you’re sitting in your lab bench and you open up the schedule of lectures for any meeting and you see somebody you would really like to here you can just pop across the, you know, across the grass to go to a meeting. So I think a graduate school there with this idea of having small classes, very focused and have a short term is really a good idea.
Tom Maniatis, molecular biologist, is a leader in the field of recombinant DNA. At Vanderbilt University he completed his Ph.D. studying DNA wide-angle scattering. He became a postdoctoral fellow and professor at Harvard University and met Jim Watson just before he became director of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.
While Maniatis was beginning experimentation with cDNA cloning and gene regulation of higher cells, the controversy over recombinant DNA in Cambridge stunted his progression. Watson offered Maniatis a position at CSHL where he could work more efficiently to understand the methods of recombinant DNA. At CSHL, Maniatis completed full-length synthesis of double stranded DNA and actual cloning of cDNA.
He is currently a professor of molecular and cellular biology at Harvard University studying the mechanisms involved in the regulation of RNA transciption and pre-messenger RNA splicing. He studies transcription to understand how eukaryotic genes are activated by viral infection and extracellular signals.