Hamilton Smith on Dan Nathans
  Hamilton Smith     Biography    
Recorded: 03 Mar 2006

Dan Nathans was always my father. He was about two years older than I am. But very serious demeanor, very thoughtful. As Kelly said one time, he has the highest signal-to-noise ratio of anybody he ever met. You know, he always thinks carefully and says things clearly and in a few words. He was picked to be president of Hopkins as an interim president, for example. I mean, he was held in extremely high regard at Hopkins. Chairman of the department through the best years of the department. Uh, what can I say? I remember—let’s see, what was it? Well just to give you an example, one of my students had gotten on the elevator with Dan. They were going down, my student told me this later, and he says—Dan looked at him very seriously and said, “how is your work going?” He said, you know, he was—he just sort of mumbled, and said it’s OK.

Hamilton Smith is a U.S. microbiologist born Aug. 23, 1931, New York, N.Y. Smith received an A.B. degree in mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley in 1952 and the M.D. degree from Johns Hopkins University in 1956. After six years of clinical work in medicine (1956-1962), he carried out research on Salmonella phage P22 lysogeny at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (1962-1967). In 1967, he joined the Microbiology Department at Johns Hopkins.

In 1968, he discovered the first TypeII restriction enzyme (HindII) and determined the sequence of its cleavage site. In, 1978 he was a co-recipient (with D. Nathans and W. Arber) of the Nobel in Medicine for this discovery.

He is currently the Scientific Director Synthetic Biology and Bioenergy Distinguished Professor at the J. Craig Venture Institute in Rockville, Maryland.