Recorded: 30 May 2003
I started working on genes; I cloned the second human gene that was ever cloned back in 1976. I actually started my PhD in 1972 working with recombinant DNA. In Edinburgh with Ed Southern and Peter Walker, so that’s where I did my PhD. I mean there was nothing known about DNA essentially my entire university career I had six lectures on eukaryotic DNA, mammalian DNA. We knew nothing about it. Edinburgh in those days knew a lot about DNA using their association and that I was in the right place at the right time for recombinant DNA, and did a lot of work on that using that approach and teaching. We had to teach the world that it was worth doing.
So there were a small number of people who started doing that work and spread the techniques and spread the word through other scientists that this way that thing were going to happen in the future. And that was a very exciting time. And it’s culminated twenty-five years later in sequencing the whole of the human genome that would have been absolutely inconceivable twenty-five years ago it was science fiction. It was unbelievably difficult to sequence DNA when we started. And then that’s just changed and it’s now unbelievably easy to sequence DNA. The game has just completely changed.
Peter Little is a bioinformatics researcher, professor of medical biochemistry and the head of the School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. He received his Ph.D. working with recombinant DNA under Ed Southern and Peter Walker at Edinburgh University. In 1976, Little cloned a human gene – the second time this was ever accomplished.
Little’s laboratory studies the genetic basis of gene expression, and genetic variation as it pertains to the regulatory regions of the genes. He has hypothesized that there are two types of genetic variation that alter gene expression. His lab has also created advanced techniques for testing genetically influenced transcript variations.
He comes to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory regularly for genome meetings and symposia.