Tom Maniatis on Jim Watson on Tom Maniatis: Quote from a Recommendation Letter
  Tom Maniatis     Biography    
Recorded: 22 Mar 2003

Mila Pollock: So I would like to read a quote. “He is a first rate both as an intellectual and as an experimentalist. He is ambitious in a pleasant way and works intensively hard himself.” Watson wrote about you.

I’m shocked. I never would have imagined he’d write something like that about me. I mean, it’s a funny thing that you, again with Jim, he tells you he respects you in very indirect ways and you never really quite know. And much of the time I felt that he didn’t respect me. In fact, I think one of the, one of the fears that I always had when I was in his presence was saying something dumb. And you know he was known to not be very tolerant of dumb people. And so that was always my relationship with him. And I assume that he must have said something good about me since he always writes recommendations when I get—as I move through my career. But I’m really quite surprised at that. I mean that it’s—it’s really quite flattering.

Tom Maniatis, molecular biologist, is a leader in the field of recombinant DNA. At Vanderbilt University he completed his Ph.D. studying DNA wide-angle scattering. He became a postdoctoral fellow and professor at Harvard University and met Jim Watson just before he became director of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

While Maniatis was beginning experimentation with cDNA cloning and gene regulation of higher cells, the controversy over recombinant DNA in Cambridge stunted his progression. Watson offered Maniatis a position at CSHL where he could work more efficiently to understand the methods of recombinant DNA. At CSHL, Maniatis completed full-length synthesis of double stranded DNA and actual cloning of cDNA.

He is currently a professor of molecular and cellular biology at Harvard University studying the mechanisms involved in the regulation of RNA transciption and pre-messenger RNA splicing. He studies transcription to understand how eukaryotic genes are activated by viral infection and extracellular signals.