Recorded: 15 Jun 2002
I’ve read some of his [Jim Watson’s] books. Of course I’ve read The Double Helix, A Passion for DNA. There’s another one I have sitting there about Gamow and so on [Genes, Girls, and Gamow: After the Double Helix]. I haven’t read that one yet. The first book was brilliant.…I mean The Double Helix. I mean, as a story it’s just brilliant. It’s great writing. It’s a lot of fun. He’s a very interesting guy. He’s so unorthodox and he’s unafraid—he’s just sort of a fearless guy. I mean if he has a controversial idea, he doesn’t worry about what other people think. In fact, he likes to provoke people. I mean that’s part of the aura that Jim has and I think he has it because he made a seminal discovery as a very young person and he’s been able to exploit that throughout his career.
You know, most people just don’t have that kind of life history. I mean it takes them years to achieve the kind of recognition that he got when he was twenty-some odd years old. So, you know, it’s a very different, special case, I think.
Charles Sherr earned his joint M.D./Ph.D. degree from New York University in 1973. He is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator based at the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN. His work focuses on retroviral oncogenes, growth factors and their receptors, and cell cycle control. In 1991, Sherr's laboratory discovered the mammalian D-type G1 cyclins and went on to identify the cyclin-dependent kinases with which they associate, as well as a series of polypeptide inhibitors that negatively regulate their activities.
Sherr is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, has won numerous awards and is the author of more than 235 scientific articles. He joined the National Cancer Institute in 1973, becoming a member of the NIH staff in 1975 and head of the viral pathology section, Division of Cancer Cause and Prevention, in 1977. In 1983, he relocated to St. Jude. Sherr is also a member of the Board of Trustees of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.