Charles Delisi on Becoming a Scientist
  Charles Delisi     Biography    
Recorded: 08 Sep 2003

Well, I’ve been interested in science probably since the third grade, since I picked up my first astronomy book. We used to have a little library in the back of the classroom with all kinds of books. And I used to read a lot of mythology. And I one day picked up a book on astronomy, which I think was called the Earth, Moon and Stars. And it was a real eye opening experience. I would say that after I finished that book my perspective of where I was in the universe changed entirely. I began, for the first time I saw myself as a person in a small neighborhood, in a larger city, on a planet that was very, very insignificant in the overall scheme of things. It was a perspective that I had never had before. And after that I joined the public library and read every book I could a hold of in astronomy. That led me into mathematics. So by the time I was in the seventh grade, I had learned a lot of geometry at that point.

Along the way I started getting interested—a number of astronomers, of course, were interested in extraterrestrial life. And as a result I started reading some biology and particularly some genetics. And so that I had an early interest in genetics as well. And, in fact, what happened when I went to college to I didn’t any biology because I placed out of that because I knew some genetics from early on. So I had this interest in physics and astronomy, and then in biology and mathematics which developed very, very early.

Charles DeLisi did pioneering work in theoretical and mathematical immunology. He received his Ph.D. in physics and did postdoctoral studies in the chemistry department at Yale University researching RNA structure. He became a theoretical physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory and then moved to the National Institute of Health, where he worked on molecular and cell immunology for ten years.

DeLisi is currently director of the Biomolecular Systems Laboratory, Chair of the Bioinformatics Program, Metcalf Professor of Science and Engineering and Dean Emeritus of the College of Engineering at Boston University.

Charles DeLisi develops computational methods for high throughput genomic and proteomic analysis. His laboratory is helping to develop technologies for fingerprinting the complete molecular state of a cell. He is interested in finding computational methods for determining protein function and researches the structural basis of signal translation by membrane bound receptors, the structural basis of voltage gating, and the docking of peptide hormones and neurotransmitters at their sites of action.

In 1986, DeLisi and Watson met at a CSHL meeting and spoke about their interests in sequencing the human genome.

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