Raymond Gesteland on Working as a Mentor: Gerry Rubin
  Raymond Gesteland     Biography    
Recorded: 04 Jun 2001

Well, let me talk about Gerry Rubin for a minute, because this was a special time. He was here for two summers as an URP and he was obviously very, very bright but very shy and bashful, so you would hardly notice he was in the room, he was so quiet. And yet he clearly had a playful side. The laboratory furniture was this old metal set of drawers, an institution gray. He and one of the other undergraduates in the lab, one evening bought cans of spray paint, so when I came in the next morning the drawer fronts were painted all wild colors, orange, yellow, green, blue. And he thought this was great fun, but he felt terribly worried that this was going to really offend me—that I was going to be angry about it. But it was wonderful, of course.

So this was a side of Gerry that really surprised me because it was so different from his general demeanor. Also after he went to Cambridge to do his degree, he came back to visit my wife and me once. He called ahead of time and he said he wanted to stop by, because he wanted us to meet his future wife to see if we approved, to see if he should really go through with this. So he formally introduced her as we sat her in the living room. We were supposed to interview her – whether she was appropriate for Gerry’s wife – they’re still together and it worked fine. But I find it a dream to look back on Gerry as I knew him then, and see to what he has evolved—this major, major player in science politics in this country. I would have never predicted it, and I would have predicted a superb scientist but never imagined him in this administrative power. It’s wonderful to see that happen, and you can’t have predicted it very well.

Raymond Gesteland, biologist, has made progress in describing essential mechanisms for controlled gene expression. His research on recoding provides insight into replication of RNA viruses such as HIV and the genetic code. Gesteland also concentrates on ribosome function and response to mRNA signals.

He received a master’s degree in biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin and earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University. After working at Alfred Tissières Laboratory in Geneva, in 1967, Gesteland arrived at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to work under Jim Watson as Assistant Director for Research.

Gesteland is currently Vice President for Research, Distinguished Professor of Human Genetics, and Chairman of the Department of Human Genetics at the University of Utah.