Peter Little on Lucky Jim
  Peter Little     Biography    
Recorded: 30 May 2003

Oh, I think there’s a bit of jealousy in that. I mean, you can argue anybody is lucky. It’s just if you actually look at a good scientist, they’re routinely lucky. And one of the reasons is that they think themselves into positions where if any observation comes along, they’re clever enough to actually observe and draw a conclusion. And so it might well have been lucky in the sense that that piece of data didn’t have to be exposed to them at that particular moment. But they’re clever enough to realize that the problem is important, that it’s got a solution that’s important and so they’ve been able to do it. So I actually don’t think people are lucky. I think, in part, make their luck.

Jim was very young when he worked with Crick. I mean there’s an element of luck doing this when you are as young as he was. And if had happened ten years later it would have been just as important. So I don’t think he really is “Lucky Jim.” I really don’t. He’s not only had some luck, but he’s one of those people who had the ability to realize that it was an important thing. And he wanted to work on it, and that’s not luck. It was an important thing. And he was well ahead of his time. I mean there weren’t many people who realized that at the time. That’s quite clear.

Peter Little is a bioinformatics researcher, professor of medical biochemistry and the head of the School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. He received his Ph.D. working with recombinant DNA under Ed Southern and Peter Walker at Edinburgh University. In 1976, Little cloned a human gene – the second time this was ever accomplished.

Little’s laboratory studies the genetic basis of gene expression, and genetic variation as it pertains to the regulatory regions of the genes. He has hypothesized that there are two types of genetic variation that alter gene expression. His lab has also created advanced techniques for testing genetically influenced transcript variations.

He comes to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory regularly for genome meetings and symposia.