Recorded: 20 Aug 2003
Yes. When I was here I was a virologist. And when I came back to Sweden, I did not have a tender job. And then suddenly I was offered a chair in human genetics at Upsala University, although I had never worked on human genetics. And I decided to take the job, even though I was offered some other jobs in microbiology and virology at the same time. But I felt that the future very much in the human genetics, at least from the medical viewpoint. I mean I switched from virology to human genetics in the ‘80s gradually. I have been a member of HUGO and the HUGO council and I know the people who have been involved very much. The work we have been doing in Upsala in my lab are very related to human genetic disease; to finding mutations which cause disease. One of my collaborators has been rather prominent in technology area, methods to detect mutations and so forth. But the contribution to the human genome project from other countries than from America and England, France and Japan, I guess, would say are very marginal. And, of course, the Swedish contribution has been small. But we have had a little share and sort of being the spokesman for the project from the Swedish side for many years.
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.