Tom Maniatis on Jim Watson as Director of CSHL
  Tom Maniatis     Biography    
Recorded: 22 Mar 2003

I think Jim at Cold Spring Harbor, I mean, one could go on forever listing the number of positive things he did for the lab. And one of his favorite projects was publications.

When he came, it was about dead. They were publishing a few monographs and nothing much was happening. And he totally rejuvenated it. And it used to be it was primarily just publishing the Symposia volume. But he would constantly have ideas. He would go to meetings and he would approach people to write books. And no one could say no to Jim. And that was the great thing about the publications office. And so it was most of the things that happened at least when I was there in the publications office were started by Jim. He had the idea of what was important and what should be written about. And more importantly who should do it. He always, he had just the right eye for knowing the right people to do things.

He probably, you know, again he knew what my situation was and wasn’t confident that I could do it alone. But he knew that most of the material in the manual is from my lab and I would be the best at putting it together. But that Joe got things done. I mean Joe is a really determined and focused person and when he wants to write something he does it. And so it’s clear. Jim saw that. He saw the timing and the opportunity and made it happen.

Tom Maniatis, molecular biologist, is a leader in the field of recombinant DNA. At Vanderbilt University he completed his Ph.D. studying DNA wide-angle scattering. He became a postdoctoral fellow and professor at Harvard University and met Jim Watson just before he became director of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

While Maniatis was beginning experimentation with cDNA cloning and gene regulation of higher cells, the controversy over recombinant DNA in Cambridge stunted his progression. Watson offered Maniatis a position at CSHL where he could work more efficiently to understand the methods of recombinant DNA. At CSHL, Maniatis completed full-length synthesis of double stranded DNA and actual cloning of cDNA.

He is currently a professor of molecular and cellular biology at Harvard University studying the mechanisms involved in the regulation of RNA transciption and pre-messenger RNA splicing. He studies transcription to understand how eukaryotic genes are activated by viral infection and extracellular signals.