Philip Green on Jim Watson, Personality & Influence
  Philip Green     Biography    
Recorded: 31 May 2003

Well, I mean initially I really didn’t have any contact with Jim. He was one of the key people obviously in getting the genome project going. He directed it for several years. And I think it was really critical to have him involved at that time because his prestige really converted a lot of people, it had a lot of sway with Congress. And so it was quite important for getting the funding.

And I had a few discussions with him from time to time, and was actually quite impressed with the fact that he seemed to be in command of the entire range of needs for the project. So he was—I even talked with him about sequence assembly from time to time. And he was interested in the details of how the sequencing was actually going to get done, and who was going to do it as well as the big picture kind of questions like where the money was going to come from.

One event that I remember and was particularly impressed by was that he and I and Maynard Olson were on the scientific advisory board at the Sanger Centre and attended a meeting in Hingston where the Sanger Centre is located. After the meeting, I don’t remember what year this was; it might have been ’96 or ’97. After the meeting Jim took Maynard and me, drove us up to Cambridge and then we walked around and saw where he used to work at the LMB. He took us to the Eagle Pub and showed us the very spot where he and Francis Crick used to have their daily discussions. And I really found that to be a thrilling experience because I had read about all of that. And just, you know, knew that the importance that the discoveries in that period of intellectual ferment had for the subsequent development of biology and so it was just very moving to be able to see those, and have Jim tell us about that.

Philip Green is a professor of genome sciences, an adjunct professor of the Computer Science and Engineering Department at the University of Washington, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, and was recently elected into the National Academy of Sciences.

Green designs software packages which aid in making genetic maps and identifying genes within the genome. He is concerned with constructing computational tools to understand cell functioning at a molecular level. Green has created the program Phred, which manages the data generated by the Human Genome Project and which is being used to help determine the most common variations in human DNA. Green’s laboratory is working to construct a gene-annotated genome sequence. His lab has modified the number of genes thought to be in the human genome—it is substantially fewer than had been previously believed.

Green spoke at the 68th Cold Spring Harbor Symposium focused on the Genome of Homo Sapiens.