Hamilton Smith on Jim Watson: Personality and Influence
  Hamilton Smith     Biography    
Recorded: 03 Mar 2006

Not necessarily stories, but things that he’s done that I admire very greatly. Like in the maximum heat of the recombinant DNA era, when the guidelines were in place and people were very restricted in what they could do without a containment facility, Jim finally came out with a quote in, I think it was in sort of verse or something, but said to the effect that it was more dangerous to be licked by a dog than to be exposed to recombinant DNA. I mean, it’s a classic Watson type of statement.

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.