Jerry Adams on Responses to "The Double Helix"
  Jerry Adams     Biography    
Recorded: 15 Jan 2003

That was one of the more amazing things for me as a student—for all of us in fact because Jim had not only let certain people see parts of the manuscript but he even would post on his bulletin board outside his office letters he had from the famous people. Sometimes quite vitriolic! I can remember seeing one from Linus Pauling which was—tore into Jim because Jim had sort of made—Linus Pauling thought had sort of made fun of him almost in The Double Helix.

And so there was this quite vicious letter from Pauling in response to him seeing an early draft anyway of The Double Helix. And I think that Jim actually even had a falling out with Crick over some of the writing at that time. I don’t remember whether I saw any letters of that kind but it was quite amazing to have that sort of thing. And sort of typical of Jim, a very brash sort of approach to everything. That’s, in a way, one of his more engaging features too is that he’s always so incredibly direct and not skirting around things but putting it, laying it out in a very direct way.

Jerry Adams, currently Professor and Joint Head of Molecular Genetics of Cancer Division of The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, is noted for his achievements in molecular biology, immunology and the molecular genetics of cancer. After completing his BSc in Chemistry at Emory University in 1962, he completed his Ph.D. at Harvard under James Watson. During this time, Adams and Mario Capecchi discovered the initiation mechanism for polypeptides. Adams earned his degree in 1967 and went on to do post-doctoral work at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England, where he met his wife, Suzanne Cory. They did further research in Geneva, and in 1972 joined The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Australia.

Adams and his research team have made many major contributions to medical science. They were the first to clone mammalian genes in Australia and discovered: (i) that antibody genes encode to recombine in a myriad of ways to fight infection; (ii) the genetic mutation that leads to Burkitt’s lymphoma and (iii) the connection between apoptosis and cancer, while studying bcl-2 gene in follicular lymphoma (with David Vaux).

Adams is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science (1986), a Fellow of the Royal Society of London (1992), a Fellow of the Royal Society of Victoria (1997) and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.