Alfred Tissières on Lucky Jim
  Alfred Tissières     Biography    
Recorded: 04 Jun 2001

Jim was trying things right and left. Instead of trying one thing, he was trying a dozen things and being rather difficult with the way he was behaving with other people. So some people thought that if Jim always fell back on his feet, he was a lucky person. Because he was so bad and look at the way he speaks: it's terrible. In a sense he was looking for those reactions by being so rough in some instances. On a whole Jim was really a—well, I used to see him every day—and I think he was a very good person. He wrote well. He was preparing to be a good scientist.

I think there are a number of reasons why he liked Cold Spring Harbor. One of the reasons was a group of all the geneticists that have come here year after year and opened, discussions here, he was very sensitive to this thing. He knew that this place had certain class, cause in a way, Jim is a bit of a snob. But I think he uses this in the right way, as far as I can tell. I have been with people like Jim outside of science when I was a student. I used to clam with a mathematician when I was in Switzerland and there was something of Jim in those people. But I think Jim is well, very good. I will tell you this but it is sort of a strange affair. I used to go skiing with Jim and we used to go to New England. I can't remember the names of the places here in the North from here.

And then there was one place, where there was a Russian woman who was keeper of this house, where she would take people in and give them food and a bed. We used to go there. And then this Russian woman was very rough with Jim and it suited Jim very well and she was treating him like a kid. Jim rather liked that She was a number of years older than he was. It was a strange thing, there was this woman who was sort of pushing Jim around. He would never think that she shouldn't do that.

Alfred Tissières was a biologist, biochemist and geneticist. He received his Ph.D. from Cambridge for his work at the Molteno Institute and subsequently did postdoctoral work on respiratory enzymes at Caltech under Max Delbruck.

Soon after returning to Cambridge, Watson suggested he come to Harvard to work on microsomal particles in E. coli.

At Harvard, Tissières and Jim discovered that ribosomes were made of two unequal pieces, each containing protein and RNA. Tissieres began a professorship at the University of Geneva where his laboratory has become prominent in the field of ribosome research.

Alfred first attended a symposium at Cold Spring Harbor in 1961 and when Jim Watson became director, Tissières would regularly visit with his family during the summer.