Recorded: 30 May 2003
My first Jim Watson story would go back much further because you have, the one that you would appreciate is that I’m a science brat. So I’m even a Cold Spring Harbor brat because my father is a virologist of many years and is a personal friend of Jim Watson. I started coming here when I was about eight years old. And I remember attending my father’s lecture in Bush [Lecture] Hall. And as soon as his lecture was over, which I found, of course, completely boring; I would run out of the Bush Hall and run down to the harbor and fish because I thought that was far more interesting than whatever they were talking about back then. So I knew Jim Watson then, but then you fast forward a number of years and it was one of the early genome meeting when I was, I guess the word was “recruited’. I think when Jim asked you to do something, I’m not totally sure it’s being recruited, to found, co-found and co-teach a brand new laboratory course at Cold Spring Harbor on yeast artificial chromosome cloning and YAC clones and their use. And so I did it. And I remember the first night of the course we sort of all went to the bar which is, of course, what everybody does on the evenings of courses. And Jim comes down and sort of a hush falls over all the students. I think everybody was just sort of waiting for some incredibly insightful comment about genomics, the genome project, YACs, about the course, something. And with everybody listening, Jim walks right up to me [and I thought] he’ll have a really important question to ask you. And I thought that this was it. This was my moment to talk to Jim about something scientifically incredibly important. And he says, “I’m really trying to decide. Do you think we should serve pizza in the bar or not?” And I admit that I don’t remember my answer, but I don’t think that they serve pizza in the bar, so I don’t know if I influenced it or not.
Although it was pretty impressive that he actually cared about that. That says something about him is that he actually cared about that. He recognizes it was probably something important about whether there was good food in the bar.
Eric Green received his B.S. from the University of Wisconsin (1981) and his M.D. and Ph.D. from Washington University School of Medicine (1987). During his residency training in clinical pathology, he worked Maynard Olson’s lab, where he developed approaches for utilizing yeast artificial chromosomes (YACs) to construct physical maps of DNA. His work also included initiation of a project to construct a complete physical map of human chromosome 7.
In 1992, he became an assistant professor of pathology, genetics, and medicine as well as a co-investigator in the Human Genome Center at Washington University. In 1994, he moved his research laboratory to the intramural program of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) at the National Institutes of Health. In November, 2009 he was appointed Director of NHGRI, after serving in the roles of NHGRI scientific director, director of NHGRI Division of Intramural Research, Chief of the Genome Technology Branch and that branches Physical Mapping Section, and Director of the NIH Intramural Sequencing Center (NISC). His lab’s current focus is on the application of large-scale DNA to study problems in human genomics, genetics, and biology.
Among the numerous awards Eric Green has received are induction into the American Society for Clinical Investigation in 2002 and into the America Association of Physicians in 2007. He is a founding editor of Genome Research, has edited the series, Genome Analysis: A Laboratory Manual, and, since 2005, is co-editor of the Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics.