Tom Maniatis on Writing in Science
  Tom Maniatis     Biography    
Recorded: 22 Mar 2003

Well, I think that’s the most important aspect in doing science, one of the most. I mean obviously designing experiments, making discoveries but if you can’t express yourself in words either in writing or in speaking then your ideas are never really understood.

And so to me, that’s one thing that I really pride myself in is in my writing and it doesn’t come easy for me. I mean I have to really struggle with it. But I learned an enormous [amount] about writing from that brief moment with Hershey and the many papers I wrote with Mark Ptashne because he, as you know, writing this book with Alex Gann, took them years. And most of that was not in the material. It was just in how to present it. I think that that’s one of the most important aspects in doing science. And poorly written papers really don’t survive the test of time.

Tom Maniatis, molecular biologist, is a leader in the field of recombinant DNA. At Vanderbilt University he completed his Ph.D. studying DNA wide-angle scattering. He became a postdoctoral fellow and professor at Harvard University and met Jim Watson just before he became director of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

While Maniatis was beginning experimentation with cDNA cloning and gene regulation of higher cells, the controversy over recombinant DNA in Cambridge stunted his progression. Watson offered Maniatis a position at CSHL where he could work more efficiently to understand the methods of recombinant DNA. At CSHL, Maniatis completed full-length synthesis of double stranded DNA and actual cloning of cDNA.

He is currently a professor of molecular and cellular biology at Harvard University studying the mechanisms involved in the regulation of RNA transciption and pre-messenger RNA splicing. He studies transcription to understand how eukaryotic genes are activated by viral infection and extracellular signals.