Ulf Pettersson on Becoming A Scientist
  Ulf Pettersson     Biography    
Recorded: 20 Aug 2003

Well, I’ve a medical degree. So, actually, it’s an odd way. To really make a career as a physician in Sweden, you needed to do research. I happened to work in the laboratory of Lennart Philipson. I started there as a summer student. Then just found it very exciting. I think all of the time I had the idea of going back to medical practice of some kind. I wouldn’t have gone to Cold Spring Harbor. I probability have been a physician in Sweden today instead which I wouldn’t have enjoyed as much as I have enjoyed my life up to now. I think the greatest satisfaction is the wonderful life you have as a scientist. You meet lots of interesting people. Your job is at the same time your hobby. There is no real difference between spare time and work. And it’s always a privilege and challenge to be in this field. And I met so many good friends here in Cold Spring Harbor who still are my friends and I still see frequently like Rich Roberts and Phil Sharp and others.

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.

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