Recorded: 22 Mar 2003
One of the most—you know, I had many, many interactions with Jim most of which were scientific, rarely personal. He might ask a personal question one in a while. But one of the most unusual interactions I had with Jim was mid-way in my time at Cold Spring Harbor. And I was sitting in my office, which was the first office on the stairway as you go down the stairs in Demerec. And it was about, it must have been about 11 or 11:30 at night and I was working at my desk. And Jim burst into the room and he had a suit on and he was very well dressed. And it became clear after he came into the room that he was really upset. He was very emotional. And he had just come back from an event at Harvard. And he had met with the Dean because Jim had resigned from Harvard. He thought—you know, he expected to go back and be honored in some way. He basically established, he founded this department and was a critical factor in its success [Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology]. And as Harvard often does, they hardly recognized anything he had done. He had met with the Dean and he was literally in tears. He described to me how, how should I say, unappreciative they were of what he had done. And he was extremely upset. And he, I think, for many years he held a real bitterness in his heart towards Harvard. And even now, I mean, he comes and he sees people and so on, but I think he was really upset by his experience.
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.