Hamilton Smith on Memories of Jim Watson
  Hamilton Smith     Biography    
Recorded: 03 Mar 2006

Well, I mean, I’m on friendly terms with him. Meaning we’ve had dinner on occasion, we’ve been on trips to Pakistan. I remember he got the black Mercedes with his wife, and we were in the white Chevy station wagon on a tour in Pakistan. So the second day my wife said, how come they always get the black Mercedes, why don’t we? And all the other people that were there with us were on a VW bus; so there was a real pecking order here. Anyway, so Jim very graciously exchanged with us, it was no problem. It wasn’t his doing, anyway, you know. I remember another incident, where we were being shown to the president, President Zia, who was a military guy with a lot of stuff here. When we walked into this residence, there was sort of a tunnel of people with the spears and you walked underneath it, and went in. So President Zia was there with some of his attaché people, shaking hands. I think Rich Roberts was the first in line and he started to extend his hand, and then our host came up immediately and pushed Rich out of the way and brought Watson up to shake hands. [Laughter] And then me.

Hamilton Smith is a U.S. microbiologist born Aug. 23, 1931, New York, N.Y. Smith received an A.B. degree in mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley in 1952 and the M.D. degree from Johns Hopkins University in 1956. After six years of clinical work in medicine (1956-1962), he carried out research on Salmonella phage P22 lysogeny at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (1962-1967). In 1967, he joined the Microbiology Department at Johns Hopkins.

In 1968, he discovered the first TypeII restriction enzyme (HindII) and determined the sequence of its cleavage site. In, 1978 he was a co-recipient (with D. Nathans and W. Arber) of the Nobel in Medicine for this discovery.

He is currently the Scientific Director Synthetic Biology and Bioenergy Distinguished Professor at the J. Craig Venture Institute in Rockville, Maryland.