Anna Marie Skalka on Jim Waston, Director of CSHL
  Anna Marie Skalka     Biography    
Recorded: 01 Mar 2003

Jim Watson: Jim Watson as a director of Cold Spring Harbor. My first experience with Jim was when he actually first came on board. And I must confess that I didn’t know how he was going to do much with Cold Spring Harbor. He seemed kind of disorganized and I didn’t even know whether his ideas about cancer and animal virology made any sense because for me molecular biology and phage were still—still had a lot to teach us. But that was his idea and I must say that every year that I’ve come back it’s been just totally extraordinary to see the changes and the beautiful laboratory and more than that the health and strength of the science that’s gone on here. So I would say that, to me, Jim Watson as a director had turned out to be a marvelous surprise! …I do remember that everyone was talking about his coming and everybody was kind of concerned about what was going to happen to the laboratory. We were all kind of—as I said, we lived in gentile poverty. But John Cairns was a kind of comfortable person. And we had no idea what to expect in Jim yet. At my level, anyway. I’m sure that other people, Al and others knew him much better including John Cairns. But from my point of view it was kind of an anxious time.

Anna Marie Skalka, microbiologist, molecular biologist and geneticist is Senior Vice President for Basic Science and director of the Institute for Cancer Research at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. She completed her Ph.D. at New York University Medical School in 1964 and came to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to continue her graduate work on bacteriophage under Al Hershey. In 1969 she left for the Roche Institute for Molecular Biology and eventually she turned her attention to retroviruses.

At Fox Chase Medical Center, Skalka studies molecular aspects of retroviral replication and hopes to uncover mechanisms of retroviral DNA integration. She has become interested in virally coded integrase, which catalyzes the integration of retroviral DNA into the host cell’s genome. Considering that stable integration of viral DNA into the host cell genome is essential for replication of retroviruses, her studies are important in developing antiviral drugs to treat AIDS.