Joan Steitz on Jim Watson and The HGP
  Joan Steitz     Biography    
Recorded: 04 Aug 2003

The genome project—I always thought the genome was pretty dull and we’d spend all sorts of time sequencing repetitive sequences. My foresight is like this compared to, you know, Jim’s foresight. And so remarkably he took on being the first head of the human genome project. Even with Bernadine Healy as head of the NIH who we actually thought was good for the first month or so. I remember—I had already decided she was awful and I remember Jim telling me she was wonderful. I was flabbergasted that he changed his mind vehemently very shortly after that I felt much better about it.

Joan Steitz is a prominent molecular biologist who earned her Ph.D. under Jim Watson at Harvard University in 1967. She joined the faculty at Yale University in 1970 and is currently the Sterling Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and the Director of the Molecular Genetics Program at the Boyer Center for Molecular Medicine at Yale. She is also an Investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Steitz’s research involves determining the structure and function of small RNA-protein complexes.

She has received numerous awards including the National Medal of Science (1986), the Weizmann Women and Science Award (1994), the Novartis Drew Award in Biomedical Research (1999), the UNESCO-L'Oréal Women in Science Award (2001), and the Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Basic Medical Research (2002).

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