Recorded: 16 Jan 2003
When I was about ten my older brother, who is two years older than me, announced that he was going to be a physicist, which he did indeed become. And so not to be outdone by him, I announced that I was going to be a chemist. I didn’t really know what it was. And I didn’t become a chemist but I did become a biochemist.
And at my school—it was an all girls’ school—where we were sort of led to believe we could do anything and so on and if you could do science and math you were automatically sent into that stream. And so I did science subjects at school and then I went to University and it all seemed to be a very natural progression. I never made any very hard decisions to be a scientist but I did find in my second year at University I was doing a double major in chemistry and biochemistry. And we had to decide at the end of third year which one to go on to graduate school in. And what I realized in third year was that the—this was in 1968, that the most recent reference we had been given in our chemistry lectures was 1941 and the most recent reference we’d been given in biochemistry was 1968. So it was a no-brainer to decide to go on in biochemistry.
Mary-Jane Gething, biochemist is Head of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Melbourne where she earned her Ph.D. in Biochemistry in 1974. Subsequently she went to Cambridge to do post-doctoral work.
In 1976, she moved to London to work on protein sequencing and in 1980, Gething and Joseph Sambrook received a NATO grant for travel to collaborate on virus research. She began working at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in 1982 where she continued her research of proteins. In 1985, Gething and Sambrook moved to Dallas to work at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. They moved back to Australia in 1994.
Her current research involves protein folding in the cell and the role of molecular chaperone BiP.