Hamilton Smith on On Being a Terrible Lecturer
  Hamilton Smith     Biography    
Recorded: 03 Mar 2006

Another story about me. I had a reputation early on as being a horrible lecturer. Incredibly bad. Probably partly because I didn’t prepare them very well. But I remember giving a lecture to the medical class, probably around ’68 or ’69, soon after I went to Hopkins. And then coming – the faculty always attended the lectures, and so coming back from the lecture to go up to the laboratory, where the students would meet us, Barry Wood the Chairman got on with me, and there were a couple of other faculty on there, and I was sort of looking at my shoes, and he was looking at his shoes, and he says – he looked at me and he says, “Ham, that was a very interesting approach.” Here was a guy that would never say anything that would really embarrass you. Like, that was really bad, we’ve got to talk about it. He says, “that was an interesting approach.”

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.