Recorded: 15 Jan 2003
I was lured here by my wife. We met in Cambridge, England. She was a native Melbournian with very strong family connections and also a very passionate Australian. And so we decided, after much discussion, that maybe this was the best place for us to live. She actually took me around to all the beaches in Australia when we got married so it sort of made me see what a special place it could be. And when we—after our period in Cambridge we had a postdoctoral period in Geneva for about two and a half years. And then we wanted to come back to Australia and we recognized that this institute was one of the strongest places. It was used to doing internationally competitive science. And we didn’t want to abandon that even though we were at the far reaches of the world from the—most of the molecular biology. We thought it could be done at this place. And after a period of time that proved to be true
Jerry Adams, currently Professor and Joint Head of Molecular Genetics of Cancer Division of The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, is noted for his achievements in molecular biology, immunology and the molecular genetics of cancer. After completing his BSc in Chemistry at Emory University in 1962, he completed his Ph.D. at Harvard under James Watson. During this time, Adams and Mario Capecchi discovered the initiation mechanism for polypeptides. Adams earned his degree in 1967 and went on to do post-doctoral work at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England, where he met his wife, Suzanne Cory. They did further research in Geneva, and in 1972 joined The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Australia.
Adams and his research team have made many major contributions to medical science. They were the first to clone mammalian genes in Australia and discovered: (i) that antibody genes encode to recombine in a myriad of ways to fight infection; (ii) the genetic mutation that leads to Burkitt’s lymphoma and (iii) the connection between apoptosis and cancer, while studying bcl-2 gene in follicular lymphoma (with David Vaux).
Adams is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science (1986), a Fellow of the Royal Society of London (1992), a Fellow of the Royal Society of Victoria (1997) and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.