Michael Ashburner on David Hogness
  Michael Ashburner     Biography    
Recorded: 03 Jul 2003

One of the other very important people of that period was David Hogness. David has been at Stanford really all of his professional life. I think he actually started in St. Louis in Arthur Kornberg’s group, but when Arthur moved to the medical school in Stanford, Dave, Paul Berg and others went with him. Dave was a very distinguished geneticist working on phage lambda. He worked in [Institut] Pasteur in the 50s, in the great days. He comes from a scientific family. His father was a professor in Chicago and as a metallurgist, I think, and was involved in the Manhattan Project. His brother John [who] is retired now [and] was I think the chancellor of the University of Washington in Seattle. So he comes from a very accomplished family.

Dave in the late ‘60s decided that he wanted to stop working with lambda and start working with Drosophila and he took a year sabbatical. He spent three months of that at Caltech with Ed Lewis, three months in Canberra with Jim Peacock and three months in Tubingen with Wolfgang Beerman. I was lucky enough [that] I was a postdoc when Dave was there. He came in so I got to know him very well then.

Just one year, a bit less actually, I got to know Dave well in ’68 when he was there because he was very interested in chromosomes and chromosome structure. The genetic organization of chromosomes was a very, very big puzzle at the time. Then I think I saw him in Germany as well because I used to go to Tubingen quite a lot because Beerman was kind of the grandfather of the field I worked on, chromosome puffing. Beerman published a very, very important paper in the ’56 symposium here. A very important paper in ’56. Then in ’69 Dave tried to recruit me to Stanford but it all fell through for complicated reasons.

Michael Ashburner, a leader in Drosophila Genetics and bioinformatics, received his B.A. (1964), M.A. (1968), Ph.D. (1968) and Sc.D. (1978) from the University of Cambridge, where he is currently professor of Biology in the Department of Genetics and a Professional Fellow of Churchill College.

He has been the joint head of European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI), of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) and was co-founder of Flybase, the primary online database for Drosophila genetics and molecular biology, the Gene Ontology Consortium, an effort to coordinate biological databases through a defined taxonomy of gene function, and the Crete Meetings, a bi-annual event focusing on the developmental and molecular biology of Drosophila melanogaster.

Among many honors, he is the recipient of the G.J. Mendel Medal (Czech Republic 1998) and the George W. Beadle Medal (Genetics Society of America 1999).

Michael Ashburner