Recorded: 20 Aug 2003
Yes, to be a scientist, I guess, is to be curious. To want to know how things work, how the world is constructed and things like that. Well, actually my daughter has been in science. The advice I would give him or her would be to really work for a good scientist. I shouldn’t say, not a prominent scientist necessarily, but someone who is intelligent and smart and who has vision. My own daughter became a biologist. And I realized for my own career that my postdoctoral stay in Cold Spring Harbor was so important. So my strong advice to her was to go to the U.S. for her postdoctoral studies which she did and worked with Eric Lander and with Richard Mulligan in Boston.
Ulf Pettersson, geneticist and virologist, is the vice-president of the University of Upssala in Sweden, a professor of medical genetics, and a leader of a group on genetic disease in the Department of Genetics and Pathology. His scientific research is focused on finding genes linked with diseases such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
After finishing his medical degree in Sweden and his thesis on adenovirus proteins, he came to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. He worked as a postdoc alongside Joe Sambrook and Rich Roberts. He researched transcription and the methods by which to grow and extract adenovirus DNA and studied how to use restriction enzymes to map viral chromosomes. His work led to the understanding of how the chromosome is organized and how transcription takes place. In the 80’s he slowly altered his concentration from virology to genetics.
After leaving Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in 1973 he became a professor of microbiology at the University of Uppsala and then chairman of the Department of Medical Genetics. He was a member of the Human Genome Organisation (HUGO) (1992-1998), and is currently a member of both the Finnish Academy of Sciences and the Royal Academy of Sciences.