Ulf Pettersson on Collaborators at CSHL
  Ulf Pettersson     Biography    
Recorded: 20 Aug 2003

I worked a lot in the beginning with Heiner Westphal, who came here at the same time as Joe Sambrook, yeah. We were lab mates in the same room.

I worked very closely with Bill Sugden. Bill was doing work on transcription, purifying RNA polymerases and naturally he became a partner. My first project was trying to transcribe adenovirus DNA with bacterial and mammalian polymerases and see if there was any specificity. And Bill Sugden was a grad student, but one of the friendliest and most helpful people that I have ever met in my career in science. He really helped everybody in James in the most admirable way.

Walter Keller was there also in James, and we had a lot of interactions.

Carel Mulder played a big role in my scientific career here at Cold Spring Harbor because he was interested in cleaving SV40 DNA with restriction enzymes. I believe he was the one who brought a few microliters of EcoRI in to James. I used that together with him to cleave adenovirus DNA, and that was sort of the beginning of developing maps of the viral chromosome.

I mean we’re talking about the days before cloning. So DNA viruses was essentially the only system by which you could have a handle on genes. So it was an exciting era and working on the adenovirus map at that time.

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.