Recorded: 29 May 2003
I was very, very lucky, and in 1979 got invited on my first sabbatical to go to Fred Sanger’s lab in Cambridge, England. And [I] was one of the groups of people that helped develop the DNA sequencing methods that we now use today. Clyde Hutchinson and I were the first two Americans to come back from Sanger’s lab. And I was one of the fellows that were involved in being a proselyte for the Sanger di-deoxy sequencing method. And we wrote a protocol book and gave it away for free. And the Bethesda Research Labs then published it. And one of my first graduate students, Elson Chen worked for BRL labs and set up training courses and stuff for people to learn how to do the Sanger Sequencing method. We were in competition with the Maxim and Gilbert method, and just as Alan Maxim would answer people’s questions on the Maxim and Gilbert method, I would answer people’s questions on the phone with the Sanger method. And so being involved in that process and we started sequencing cancer genes and tRNA genes and other genes of interest to the community. And then eventually in 1990 my lab was one of the first three labs to be funded as part of the beginning of the human genome project. And our role was to train students and develop techniques and start right at the beginning.
And then we were the first test sites outside of Foster City to have an ABI sequencer, one of these new fangled automated DNA sequencers. So we’ve been involved in the project since the beginning, but I’ve always wanted to keep a smaller lab and not be one of the huge factories, but rather because I’m at a university and really think that teaching students is important and interacting with people and students on a daily basis, that’s what my role has been in the project.
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.