Mary Jane Gething on University of Texas
  Mary Jane Gething     Biography    
Recorded: 16 Jan 2003

It’s UT Southwestern—University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. Jim Wilson was the chief of cardiology there. And he—in fact, the whole medical school was special.

In many places, many medical schools around the states, there was very much at that time and possibly still, probably still, I don’t know—the deep divisions between the basic researches and the clinicians.

But in Dallas right from the beginnings as I understand it, there’s a guy called Don Selden who is the chief of the medical school. And he—right from the earliest days when it was just huts this medical school had insisted that his clinicians have a research focus. And that the—he couldn’t insist that the basic scientists got involved because he was not their chief.

So there was this amazing synergy there between the clinicians and the basic scientists. And Jim Wilson was a perfect sort of paradigm with this. Like the first day that we got down there Jim came over and said, “You know I need to put clinical fellows from cardiology into your lab. They need to know this stuff.” And so for us it made that project more important than just the beauty of the science. He really showed that it was crucial.

And it came to be, of course. I mean, very late on because Genentech licensed our mutants in the end. But they only started marketing it in the last year or two because the wild type enzyme is now reaching the end of its patent life. It’s my belief anyway that they would not be interested in really working up the mutant form too many years earlier because you would be competing with your own product and so on. But it is now being sold.

So looking back, even though I came into science not with any desire to save mankind, looking back it actually has been a really important thing that the science that I loved has also had this positive effect more broadly than just amusing me.

Mary-Jane Gething, biochemist is Head of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Melbourne where she earned her Ph.D. in Biochemistry in 1974. Subsequently she went to Cambridge to do post-doctoral work.

In 1976, she moved to London to work on protein sequencing and in 1980, Gething and Joseph Sambrook received a NATO grant for travel to collaborate on virus research. She began working at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in 1982 where she continued her research of proteins. In 1985, Gething and Sambrook moved to Dallas to work at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. They moved back to Australia in 1994.

Her current research involves protein folding in the cell and the role of molecular chaperone BiP.

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