Recorded: 08 May 2008
I was born on the 23rd of May, 1942 in the Princess Elizabeth Hospital in Brighton and Sussex in England. And here I am, six, sixty, sixty-six years later.
My father was a photographer and my mother was an East End first generation from Ukraine.
So her parents, my maternal grandmother, came to England in 1908, and my maternal grandfather came from Odessa in, around the same time. And they brought her up in the ghetto in the East End of London. My mother married out and we lived in Sussex.
Like many English boys growing up in the country, I got interested in nature, you know. I collected bird’s eggs, beetles, and hedgehogs. I had a pet hedgehog, yeah, and snakes. I became interested in biology. I liked biology in school and I went to Cambridge, did well in biology, and here I am.
Michael Ashburner, a leader in Drosophila Genetics and bioinformatics, received his B.A. (1964), M.A. (1968), Ph.D. (1968) and Sc.D. (1978) from the University of Cambridge, where he is currently professor of Biology in the Department of Genetics and a Professional Fellow of Churchill College.
He has been the joint head of European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI), of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) and was co-founder of Flybase, the primary online database for Drosophila genetics and molecular biology, the Gene Ontology Consortium, an effort to coordinate biological databases through a defined taxonomy of gene function, and the Crete Meetings, a bi-annual event focusing on the developmental and molecular biology of Drosophila melanogaster.
Among many honors, he is the recipient of the G.J. Mendel Medal (Czech Republic 1998) and the George W. Beadle Medal (Genetics Society of America 1999).