Jerry Adams on Jim Watson, "The Double Helix"
  Jerry Adams     Biography    
Recorded: 15 Jan 2003

I think his writing is fantastic. I mean, The Double Helix is a remarkable story, a remarkable scientific story. And I think it gives a tremendous direct flavor and it’s so much more personalized view of science than most anything else that scientists have ever written. They tend to be rather reserved and try to—too formal, I think. And I think that book is really quite remarkable.

Of course, Jim’s been criticized a lot for the way in which he talked about Rosalind Franklin. But I think he’s defended himself to some extent by saying that he tried to convey the attitudes he had at the time. He sort of—he even really portrays himself as actually a brash young American. I think that obviously he must have been since he maintained a lot of that later on, at the time that I knew him. So I think it was probably a very personal account of the great scientific discovery of the last century.

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.