Jeffrey Miller on Scientific Influences
  Jeffrey Miller     Biography    
Recorded: 08 Mar 2006

Well, I, uh, was very fortunate to be a graduate student in the Harvard/ Boston/ Cambridge area during a period of time when the field was still small enough so that it was a very close-knit community. So even as a graduate student there, which was a hub, and between there and Cold Spring Harbor where the annual meeting – this was before there was a zillion meetings – the annual meeting was like a reunion of the field. As a graduate student one got to meet most if not all of the prominent scientists, and I was fortunate enough of course to have contact with my own thesis advisor, John Beckwith, who had a great influence on my career. But also Jim Watson and Wally Gilbert; Jim had won a Nobel Prize, Wally would go on to have, go on to win a Nobel Prize. And they, all three of them had a tremendous influence on my career. And I was fortunate enough to meet people like Max Delbrück and Francis Crick when I was a graduate student, or just after. But I would say that Sydney Brenner was the most influential other scientist. Because he interacted so much, and he also would come much more frequently. And I… and he’s a brilliant man just like all these others. So they were my chief initial influences.

Now I’m, sorry, I wanted to mention one other person though. When I was an undergraduate I was fortunate to do my first research in the lab with Henry Sobel, and that had a big impact on me. And that, I, I would be nowhere without that.

Jeffrey H. Miller, Ph.D., is the Distinguished Professor of the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics at the University of California, Los Angeles. After receiving his undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Rochester, he did graduate work in biochemistry and molecular biology at Harvard in the department that included Jim Watson and Walter Gilbert, doing his thesis work under Jonathan Beckwith at Harvard Medical School. His postdoctoral work was pursued under Benno Müller-Hill at the Institute for Genetics of the University of Cologne in Germany, followed by 11 years on the faculty at the University of Geneva's Department of Molecular Biology, which was then headed by Alfred Tissières. In 1983 he joined the faculty at UCLA, where his scientific focus has been large-scale DNA sequencing and genomic analysis, the enzymology of DNA repair, protein structure, and the role of DNA repair enzymes in human cancer. He received the 2007 Career Award for Research from the Environmental Mutagen Society.

Miller has been a frequent participant at Cold Spring Harbor Symposia, a course lecturer at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and a co-organizer of two meetings at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory's Banbury Center. He has been a consultant and principal in various biotechnology companies since the 1980s. In 1994 he co-founded Diversa Corporation, which has merged to become Verenium, a publicly owned biofuel company. He is the author of several books and laboratory manuals published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, including "Experiments in Molecular Genetics" (1972), "A Short Course in Bacterial Genetics" (1992), and "Discovering Molecular Genetics" (1996).