Ulf Pettersson on Changes Over Time in the HGP
  Ulf Pettersson     Biography    
Recorded: 20 Aug 2003

I think it’s difficult to just talk about the genome project in isolation. I mean it’s the whole field. The genome sequence as such does not give that much direct knowledge, but the combination of having the sequence and having the possibility to make changes in the DNA could change—and I think it’s likely to change the lives of human beings very dramatically, but it will take time.

But I’m not saying that—probably my grandchildren, I have two of them, are those who will benefit from this. I won’t unfortunately and probably not my children either. But my guess is that cancer may not be cured, but it may be a disease that a patient can live with for a long time, like high blood pressure or something that you need to take some medication, but you can live on with it.

But many of the common complex diseases we might have new drugs. You know the medical world could be... And, of course, all the interesting things, not the least what was presented here at the symposium about stem cells and regenerative medicine. I mean it could really change the lives of many people.

Ulf Pettersson, geneticist and virologist, is the vice-president of the University of Upssala in Sweden, a professor of medical genetics, and a leader of a group on genetic disease in the Department of Genetics and Pathology. His scientific research is focused on finding genes linked with diseases such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

After finishing his medical degree in Sweden and his thesis on adenovirus proteins, he came to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. He worked as a postdoc alongside Joe Sambrook and Rich Roberts. He researched transcription and the methods by which to grow and extract adenovirus DNA and studied how to use restriction enzymes to map viral chromosomes. His work led to the understanding of how the chromosome is organized and how transcription takes place. In the 80’s he slowly altered his concentration from virology to genetics.

After leaving Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in 1973 he became a professor of microbiology at the University of Uppsala and then chairman of the Department of Medical Genetics. He was a member of the Human Genome Organisation (HUGO) (1992-1998), and is currently a member of both the Finnish Academy of Sciences and the Royal Academy of Sciences.