Jeffrey Miller on Working with Jim Watson at Harvard
  Jeffrey Miller     Biography    
Recorded: 08 Mar 2006

Well at Harvard, which is what I first started at, that’s when I first took a course from him. And then I was in this unique position where even though I was in the department that Jim was in I had decided to do my research with John Beckwith at Harvard Medical School. So I really got the best of both worlds. I got all the wonderful genetics that John Beckwith could give me, and I also benefited from the associations I started at Harvard Medical School. But then I would take the shuttle bus over…And then because I had a lot of interests that coincided with people like Wally Gilbert, I would spend a lot of time with the Watson-Gilbert group. So I was an adjunct of the group, so to speak. And that allowed me to interact with him, perhaps, on a more casual basis, because by not being directly in his group I, uh, wouldn’t be receiving favoritism in treatment versus his other graduate students. And also it just, it just made things easier. And I interacted with him all throughout my career. Because he asked me to come to Cold Spring Harbor in 1968 and he, he just, and he then suggested that I assist in a bacterial genetics course, and then to write up a lab manual for that. And all of these just produced a lot of interactions with him, and then with his wife, Liz, when he got married. MP: And so, do you remember any stories? Just human stories. When you saw Jim, or Liz, or together.

Jeffrey H. Miller, Ph.D., is the Distinguished Professor of the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics at the University of California, Los Angeles. After receiving his undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Rochester, he did graduate work in biochemistry and molecular biology at Harvard in the department that included Jim Watson and Walter Gilbert, doing his thesis work under Jonathan Beckwith at Harvard Medical School. His postdoctoral work was pursued under Benno Müller-Hill at the Institute for Genetics of the University of Cologne in Germany, followed by 11 years on the faculty at the University of Geneva's Department of Molecular Biology, which was then headed by Alfred Tissières. In 1983 he joined the faculty at UCLA, where his scientific focus has been large-scale DNA sequencing and genomic analysis, the enzymology of DNA repair, protein structure, and the role of DNA repair enzymes in human cancer. He received the 2007 Career Award for Research from the Environmental Mutagen Society.

Miller has been a frequent participant at Cold Spring Harbor Symposia, a course lecturer at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and a co-organizer of two meetings at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory's Banbury Center. He has been a consultant and principal in various biotechnology companies since the 1980s. In 1994 he co-founded Diversa Corporation, which has merged to become Verenium, a publicly owned biofuel company. He is the author of several books and laboratory manuals published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, including "Experiments in Molecular Genetics" (1972), "A Short Course in Bacterial Genetics" (1992), and "Discovering Molecular Genetics" (1996).