Gerald Rubin on Ray Gesteland
  Gerald Rubin     Biography    
Recorded: 30 May 2003

So my second summer here I was very friendly with a young lady who lived in ____who was a dishwasher in the lab. And one night we decided that the lab was sort of boring, you know, that have these gray, you know, the metal gray drawers and the lab would be much better if it was more colorful. So we went to the hardware store and bought bright colored spray paint. And we spray-painted each of the drawers in the lab a different color like bright orange, bright yellow, bright red. And actually we did a very good job. The paint job was very good. But still I remember realizing that at about one o’clock in the morning, what have we done because I could imagine, you know, some undergraduate in my lab spray painted the lab, you know. So I was very nervous. So I came in the next morning, I got there early because I wanted to be there before Ray came in. I figured I better be there. And he came in and he looked at it he said, “Very nice,” and then he walked back into his office. And for the thirty years I’ve never gotten him to ever tell me what he really thought. So, I mean, I’ve never seen Ray visibly get angry or yell at anyone or whatever. So, if somebody did that at in my lab they’d probably be dead. So that was sort of one of my favorite, you know, Ray stories. That says what kind of, you know, person he was.

I can tell you another story. When I was here Bernard Hirt was here. And he was purifying lots of SV40 virus. And he was lyophilizing. And I was in doing triptic peptide fingerprinting. And we had to use a chemical, performic acid, to oxidation. And then you had put it on the lyophilizer, and no one told me that it was very important to close off any one else’s samples because the performic acid that would be coming off your sample would affect other people’s samples if they are on the same machine. So I didn’t know that. I didn’t know, at eleven o’clock at night I put my sample on there. And someone told me, oh, you shouldn’t have done that. And then I had to call Ray up at home. And Ray came in and Bernard Hirt had this whole big viral sample there, and I had to call Bernard Hirt at 11:30 at night and he came in his bathrobe and I had to explain that I had just ruined a month of his work basically. And again, Ray was very calm and no one got mad. I realized how unusual these things were at the time. So Ray is just one of my favorite people. He’s just wonderful, kind, gentle, nice person.

Gerald Rubin is a geneticist, molecular and cell biologist. As Director of the Berkeley Drosophila Genome Project, he led the sequencing of the entire fruit fly genome. Currently, as Vice President and Director of the Janelia Farm Research Campus at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Ashburn, Virginia, his research focus is on developing the biological and computer tools that are capable of analyzing and displaying the vast amount of information available from the genomic DNA sequencing of the fruit fly. He uses these advanced techniques to decipher gene regulation and expression at a genome-wide level in Drosophila and determine the function of certain fruit fly genes.

Gerald Rubin is also a professor of Genetics and Development at the University of California, Berkeley. He came to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory as an URP (Undergraduate Research Program) in the early 70’s working under Lionel Crawford and Ray Gesteland before moving to Cambridge to earn his Ph.D. in molecular biology. He did postdoctoral work at Stanford University School of Medicine and became an assistant professor of biological chemistry at Harvard Medical School prior to commencing his genetics professorship at Berkeley in 1983.

Gerald Rubin is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine. Among the awards he has received is the American Chemical Society Eli Lilly Award in biological chemistry.