Recorded: 04 Jun 2001
So what was it like with Jim at Cold Spring Harbor? First, it was very intriguing to watch the changing style from the glass is half-empty to the half-full approach to life. And I was always astonished at Jim’s willingness to stick his neck out and take chances and bet on problems getting solved as they went along, and not letting the likelihood of failure get in the way of doing stuff. That was—it made me nervous to watch that style, but it worked fine.
And what amazed me, and still amazes me to this day, is how Jim has matured into being the fundraiser and social entrepreneur that he is. That, I would have not guessed or predicted at all, and so it’s fun to watch that evolution. The scientific climate went right along with perfectly well, unperturbed by anything else going on. The new folks coming in from Dulbecco’s lab and other places certainly made the place increasingly interesting and increasingly diverse as a place to do science. But with that came the loss of some of the warm, social, fun things that the Cairns had so carefully nurtured.
Raymond Gesteland, biologist, has made progress in describing essential mechanisms for controlled gene expression. His research on recoding provides insight into replication of RNA viruses such as HIV and the genetic code. Gesteland also concentrates on ribosome function and response to mRNA signals.
He received a master’s degree in biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin and earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University. After working at Alfred Tissières Laboratory in Geneva, in 1967, Gesteland arrived at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to work under Jim Watson as Assistant Director for Research.
Gesteland is currently Vice President for Research, Distinguished Professor of Human Genetics, and Chairman of the Department of Human Genetics at the University of Utah.