Recorded: 01 May 2000
Amar: I remember one time talking to Jim Watson about, that maybe DNA strands make the difference. I think it’s an interesting problem: Whether life could be as simple. That DNA could do more things than just carry genetic information. So, I remember, that when I got the result, when we made a duplication of the mating type locus—Jeff and Jim [Hicks] had left by that time, I think. In the duplication of the mating type locus, the proposal was, that this way, normally one in four grandchildren of the cells switches. So if you duplicated it, now both sides of the lineage should become equivalent, developmentally. So that two out of four cells should switch. I still remember! I remember the day that we thought up the experiment and I remember the day that the result came about. So I ran into Jim Watson the next day around 8 o’clock—he comes at odd hours—and so I happened to be there and I said to him “Jim, come down. I want to tell you something.” So I explained that with a line drawing. And he said, “That’s good, but it’s complicated. How can you tell somebody this result?” I said, “Just tell them Watson is different from Crick!” I got a big response from him!
Jeff: He didn’t say which was better!
Amar: And then he walked away. But I think that there were lots of other things we did together, and some separately. They were all in group mentality. There are too many to count. I think the best one was having two children born there. That’s the best experiment.
Amar Klar and Jeff Strathern worked together in the Cold Spring Harbor Yeast group from 1977 till 1984 where they made outstanding discoveries about the mechanism of mating type switching in yeast.
Amar Klar, is a leading yeast geneticist, concerned with the molecular biology of gene silencing and mating-type switching. Klar came from India to the University of Wisconsin in 1975 to receive his Ph.D. in bacteriology. From 1977 to 1984, he worked with Jeff Strathern and Jim Hicks in the Cold Spring Harbor Yeast Group studying the mechanism of mating type switching. Klar served as Director of the Delbruck laboratory from 1985 to 1988.
He left Cold Spring Harbor to join the ABL-Basic Research Program as Head of the Developmental Genetics Section. In 1999, Klar joined the National Cancer Institute Center for Cancer Research and is now a Principal Investigator in the Gene Regulation and Chromosome Biology Laboratory at NCI-CCR.
Jeffrey Strathern, a leading yeast geneticist, obtained his Ph.D. from the Molecular Biology Institute at the University of Oregon in 1977 and then moved to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, where he became a Senior Staff Member with the yeast genetics laboratory.
In 1984, he joined the ABL-Basic Research Program at the NCI-FCRDC. His research remains centered on aspects of gene regulation and genetic recombination as revealed by studies in yeast. In 1999, Strathern joined the Division of Basic Sciences, NCI. Strathern worked together with Amar Klar and Jim Hicks in the Cold Spring Harbor Yeast group from 1977 to 1984 where they made outstanding discoveries about the mechanism of mating type switching in yeast.