Merilyn Sleigh on International Science: Differences between US and Australia
  Merilyn Sleigh     Biography    
Recorded: 17 Jan 2003

I think that for me the postdoc in Cold Spring Harbor was really a turning point. Australia was then perhaps more so a fairly closed scientific community. Without the internet, without emails, even without fax machines of course in those days the flow of information between American labs for example and Australian labs was pretty slow and you kind of knew things because they were published or because maybe somebody in your lab had been to a conference, but travel was expensive slower and all those things so you know the flow was not as great. And so sitting in Australia you had very little idea of how your science sat in a world context and going to the U.S. as I did was a real turning point for me in just showing yes I was as good as they were. I could compete. I could produce results which people were interested in and then of course I could back and be this amazing expert on even things that I hadn’t done because people were starved for information.

I remember when I came back, very shortly after I came back, I gave a major talk at a big conference in Australia on RNA splicing and of course I’d run up all these people at Cold Spring Harbor and elsewhere and got all their slides and was able to give this amazingly up-to-date talk on RNA splicing which wasn’t strictly my field. And you know, it got an enormous response from people because they just hadn’t heard this stuff before. It was all new

Merilyn Sleigh is a pharmacologist, molecular biologist and dean in the Department of Life Sciences at the University of New South Wales. After completing her Ph.D. at the University of Sydney in pharmacology and another PhD in molecular biology at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), she came to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to work under Joe Sambrook as a postdoctoral fellow researching the protein production of SV40. She returned to CSIRO, establishing one of the first laboratories in Australia using genetic engineering approaches to study influenza virus structure, evolution and gene regulation. She has become involved in developing the biotechnological industry in Australia. Sleigh is founding director of the Australian Biotechnology Association and is currently Chief Executive of EvoGenix, a start-up biotechnology company located in Australia.

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