David Lane on Jim Watson at CSHL
  David Lane     Biography    
Recorded: 04 Jun 2001

I think the sense of his presence was enormous. He was very actively engaged when I was here [at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory]. He used to really take a huge interest in science. He used to come to the seminars and he would comment on things. He was very influential. He got incredibly interested in cell biology. My wife was working with Günter Albrecht-Buehler. Jim’s interest really started to focus on cell biology at that time so he was coming to all the seminars. There are great stories about that, it was a rather informal seminar series, it’s just an internal lab meeting, but Jim started to come to these because he wanted to hear. As he started to come to the meetings, the scientists started to spend more and more time preparing talks. Jim is very easily seduced by dutiful pictures. He loves the aesthetic side of science, so in the end they would be spending all week getting these presentations ready with double slide projection and everything. Then Keith Burridge’s turn came around. Keith’s another Englishman, and he just had a few sloppy overheads and stuff so he presented this, because it was just a lab meeting. The next thing we all heard, was that Jim had called him into his office for a pretty serious discussion about his future. It’s so different, I mean, it was instant relationship between what you were doing and how you were regarded—which the halls of [the] British university system work solidly against: You can work very hard in British university and it doesn’t matter whether you’re good or bad. But here, you knew your accommodation would be better or worse according to how well you were doing. You would feel it. It was a very direct sense of what your level of achievement was and what’s happening, which is again part of the uniqueness of the place.

David Lane, immunologist, is the Director of the Cancer Research UK Transformation Research Group at the University of Dundee, Department of Surgery and Molecular Oncology at the Ninewells Hospital and Medical School in Dundee, Scotland. Lane founded the Department of Surgery and Oncology in the University’s Medical School with Alfred Cucheiri, one of the pioneers in minimal access ("keyhole") surgery. Currently on leave from the University of Dundee, he the Executive Director of the IMCB in Singapore. Lane is also the founder and Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board of Cyclacel, a Dundee based biotechnology company now listed on the NASDAQ. Shortly after receiving his Ph.D., he was recruited by Joe Sambrook to work at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory with the Tumor Virus Group in the 70’s, where he also completed one of his books on antibodies. In 2000, Lane was knighted by Queen Elizabeth of England for his many contributions to science. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of London, the Academy of Medical Sciences, and the University College London.