Recorded: 29 May 2003
I think that as far as the student point of view, I think that the students that we are getting nowadays are extremely knowledgeable. Not to putdown the students I had twenty years ago because they are now the leaders in genomics and leaders in the field. But the things that people are learning about DNA in elementary school, you know. I mean, DNA you can think of it as a string of Christmas tree lights, right? Four different colored light bulbs in two strands, right, and the only time that the DNA works is when it unwinds and it opens up. And then you get a copy of these Christmas tree lights and that’s RNA that eventually goes to make proteins which is like a poppet bead necklace of twenty different color beads, okay? And so think of that.
And what our job in the genome project is to find the order of red, green, yellow, blue, blue, red, red, green, blue, and we have three billion of them in humans, okay? But now students know that. And so when they come to my lab as freshman, they can start right in the lab. And so I have twenty-five or so undergraduates working in our genome center. I’ve got sixty people in the genome center; fifteen graduate students and the rest are technicians and postdocs that have been with me on average for seven or eight years, okay? So we try and teach people. We try and have fun and try and expand our horizons so to speak, okay? But I just had an undergraduate student as an honors thesis complete the sequence of a chloroplast genome, right? A hundred and twenty thousand red, green, yellow, blue light bulbs. And he figured out the order of them. And this has been going on now. But the students we have today have this knowledge and their just excited about it, okay? And they want to be involved in the latest forefront on how to do this because these are the folks when they graduate from college and medical school, you know, the people that are listening to this are the people that will go on and do and really make this a better place
Bruce Roe is a George Lynn Cross Research Professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Oklahoma. He graduated with a Ph.D in biochemistry from the University of Western Michigan and received a National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellowship to research at SUNY Stony Brook. He spent his 1978-79 sabbatical at Fred Sanger’s lab, where he helped develop the renowned method of DNA sequencing currently used today.
Roe is founding director of the Advanced Center for Genomic Technology (ACGT) at the U. of Oklahoma, one of the first large-scale sequencing facilities in the US. At present, the ACGT innovates computational and robotic methods to analyze DNA sequence results and is currently determining the nucleotide sequence of five microbial genomes. In 1999, Roe’s research led to the elucidation and publication of the complete sequence of human chromosome 22. This was the first human chromosome to be sequenced in its entirely.
He has attended genome meetings and symposia at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory for over 20 years.