Recorded: 30 May 2003
I mean the most exciting experiment was the first time we got a diagnosis of a baby that didn’t have thalassemia, which is a blood disorder. And it was done in 1979. And it was done using a technique that really only had been invented four years earlier for looking at DNA molecules, Southern Blotting. And I remember getting up in the middle of a dinner party and going off to work and coming back about two hours later and telling all these people that I had seen someone’s DNA—their genes, before they’d even been born.
And it was just an extraordinary—I mean it really was an extraordinary sensation. It was the only time that I had been really conscious that scientists periodically live in a different world than anybody else. And I said that I’ve just seen this child’s DNA and she hasn’t—I think it was a “she”—and she hasn’t even been born yet. And I know that she’s not going to have the genetic disorder. So that was one of those moments which I found very exciting.
Peter Little is a bioinformatics researcher, professor of medical biochemistry and the head of the School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. He received his Ph.D. working with recombinant DNA under Ed Southern and Peter Walker at Edinburgh University. In 1976, Little cloned a human gene – the second time this was ever accomplished.
Little’s laboratory studies the genetic basis of gene expression, and genetic variation as it pertains to the regulatory regions of the genes. He has hypothesized that there are two types of genetic variation that alter gene expression. His lab has also created advanced techniques for testing genetically influenced transcript variations.
He comes to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory regularly for genome meetings and symposia.