Suzanne Cory on Mentoring
  Suzanne Cory     Biography    
Recorded: 15 Jan 2003

I think you have to tell your students that they have to first of all chose important questions to work on. Science is very demanding. You certainly don’t want to be wasting your time and energy on minor questions. So it’s worth committing your whole life to something that’s a very important question, so first chose a very important question.

Secondly, when your training, it’s really important that you chose the best possible laboratory to work in that will let you in. The quality of the training you get and the contacts that you make at an early stage in your career are very, very important.

Then I think mentors who are very positive about your potential are really important. If I think about Gus Nossal who was the director of the institute before me, his unique quality, I think, was the ability to be positive about people’s abilities. And by being so positive he brought out the best in people. So it’s a difficult balance, isn’t it? As a scientist, as a mentor, you are all the time trying to teach judgment, scientific judgment, quite critical scientific judgment to your students. But on the other hand you don’t want to break their spirit, you want to inspire them.

Suzanne Cory, is currently Director of The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI), joint head (with Professor Jerry Adams) of the Molecular Genetics of Cancer division at WEHI, and a professor of Medical Biology at the University of Melbourne.

Dr. Cory, a biochemist and molecular oncologist, has focused her research interests in immunology and cancer development. Her current research on the Bcl-2 gene family, and how cells decide to live or die (apoptosis), will lead to the knowledge to develop specific therapeutics for cancer and other diseases.

Dr. Cory earned her PhD in 1968 from the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, working on RNA sequencing with Nobelists Fred Sanger and Francis Crick. While at Cambridge, she met and later married scientist Jerry Adams. Following their post-doctoral work and beginning research partnership at the University of Geneva, Cory and Adams moved to Australia and The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in 1971. Their work at WEHI helped introduce gene cloning technology in Australia. In the 1980s they discovered the genetic mutation that leads to Burkett’s Lymphoma.

Suzanne Cory was invited to speak at the 1970 Symposium, and has attended many meetings and Symposia at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory since then. Dr. Cory has received numerous awards and honors, including the Companion of the Order of Australia, Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, and Fellow of the Royal Society. She is Deputy Chairman of Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, and a director of biotechnology company Bio21 Australia Limited.