2012.10 Newsletter 3

Library Newsletter/Special Edition, November 2012 Issue 1

American Archives Month

Celebrating The Archives at CSHL

This past week has been a particularly trying and memorable one for Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and the entire CSHL community. Much credit goes to all those at the Lab whose emergency planning, management and devoted hard work have brought us through the recovery after the historic storm. My hope is that all staff and their families will be back to their normal routines soon.


We continue this week to tell the story of our institution over the course of its 120 year history. The selected documents and photos in this third newsletter of the series of four, will highlight the period 1950-1980. (To view the 2 prior newsletters covering the years 1890 -1949 see: http://library.cshl.edu/resources/library-newsletter) If this brief presentation piques your curiosity, you are always welcome to visit our library, where several archival exhibits are currently on display, or to explore our archives online at http://library.cshl.edu/archives


 ~Mila Pollock

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory 1950-1980

During the period 1950-1980, the two independent research institutions operating concurrently at Cold Spring Harbor, the Biological Laboratory and the Department of Genetics, were officially merged to improve management and better secure future research funding. The scientists of the two institutions had begun working cooperatively since the 1930s with the advent of the yearly Symposia and by the mid-1950s were attending joint weekly meetings and seminar lectures. The newly incorporated entity, named the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory of Quantitative Biology, was established in 1963. Several major scientific breakthroughs and Firsts occurred at the Lab during this period and the facility itself experienced rapid growth and development, as highlighted in this newsletter issue.

Alfred Hershey had been recruited for the Carnegie Institution's Department of Genetics in 1950, by Milislav Demerec. Not long after his arrival he began the work, with Martha Chase, which would lead to his legendary Waring blender experiment (the Hershey-Chase experiment) in 1952. They proved that DNA, not protein, contained the hereditary material in phage. Although the Carnegie Institution withdrew its support at Cold Spring Harbor in 1962, it continued to support Hershey's work and he remained at the Lab until his retirement in 1974. Hershey was awarded the Nobel Prize for his work in 1969.

(For more information about Hershey's life and career in science see the exhibits displayed at the new Hershey Building.)

Martha Chase, Alfred Hershey, 1953
Waring Blender

Phage Meetings Begin at Cold Spring Harbor 1950

In 1950, Max Delbruck organized the first Phage Meeting to be held at Cold Spring Harbor, which then continued yearly until 2010. Many prominent scientists in the field of molecular biology and several future nobelists attended the Phage Meeting in 1954, pictured here. Included are left to right: Back row: James Watson, Waclaw Szybalski, Norton Zinder, Martha Chase. Middle row: Karl Maramorosch, Kitty Warren, Alan Garen, Gunther Stent, Gus Doermenn. Front row: Alfred Hershey, Milislav Demerec, Sydney Brenner, Francis Crick. The Phage Meetings continued yearly until 2010.


1954 Phage Meeting Attendees

Landmark Symposium on Quantitative Biology, 1953

By 1952, the attendance at the yearly Symposium had increased beyond the capacity of the small  "Assembly Room" (Racker Reading Room) in Blackford Hall, where the Symposia had been held since the first meeting in 1933. Bush Lecture Hall, with 250 seats, was built in 1953 to accommodate the Symposia and other large meetings at the Lab. The first Symposium held in Bush that year, XVII: Viruses, became a landmark in the history of molecular biology and genetics. It was here that Dr. James Watson made the first presentation of the DNA double helix at an open meeting. The list of attendees at that meeting reads like an honor roll of virologists and geneticists, including Bertani, Doermann, Stent, Vogt, Zinder, Delbruck, Dulbecco, Hershey, Jacob, Luria, McClintock and Watson.


(For details about the history of the symposia, see the CSHL Symposia Archive at: )



James Watson, First DNA Structure presentation, 1954

Undergraduate Research Program Begins, 1959

The Undergraduate Research Program was established in 1959, with initial support (thru 1972) from the National Science Foundation and under the direction of the Long Island Biological Association. Arthur Chovnick was Assistant Director of the Biological Laboratory at that time and was appointed the first director of the yearly summer URP program. Among the first year attendees was future Nobelist, David Baltimore. Other notable alumni include Gerry Rubin, Alfred Goldberg, Geraldine Seydoux and Charles Gilbert. The program is now administered by the Watson School for Biological Sciences and continues to provide college students with the opportunity to conduct first-rate research while learning about the methods and principles of research in a professional scientific environment.




URP student, Alan Rein with Arthur Chovnick (right), 1961  


The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory of Quantitative Biology is Established, 1963

The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory of Quantitative Biology was established in 1963, incorporating the Biological Laboratory (Long Island Biological Association) and the Department of Genetics (Carnegie Institution of Washington.) The new institution was then governed by a 12-member Board of Directors, each member representing one of the nine universities and research institutions who had joined together to provide fiscal stability to the Lab. Barbara McClintock was among the three additional appointed members. An excerpt from the minutes of the LIBA meeting on July 15, 1963, pictured here, announces the merger and lists the participating institutions, which includes LIBA, Duke University, Albert Einstein Medical College, New York University Medical Center, Princeton University, Public Health Research Institute of NYC, Rockefeller Institute, Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research, and Brooklyn College of the City University of New York.





John Cairns, First Director, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory of Quantitative Biology

John Cairns, an MD and molecular biologist, was the first director appointed by the new Board of Trustees of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory of Quantitative Biology in 1963. He immediately got to work on raising funds and directing the improvement of the run-down facilities of the laboratory while pursuing his own research in Demerec laboratory. He hired scientists who focused their research on the mechanisms of DNA at the molecular level, a new direction for genetics research at that time. Under his direction, the 31st Symposium, The Genetic Code, was held June 2-9, 1966. In the CSHLQB Annual Report for that year, Dr. Cairns reported that, “The Symposium was the first international meeting expressly devoted to the code itself and the book that results will constitute the most authoritative account of the code.” It was the largest meeting held at Cold Spring Harbor at that time for the number of attendees and papers presented. The introduction, titled “the Genetic Code: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,” was given by Francis Crick. Cairns resigned as director in 1967, citing an unsupportive Board of Trustees and lack of reliable funding, but stayed on to continue his research at CSHLQB until 1972.


(Listen to John Cairns describe his experiences at CSHL at our Oral History online: )



John Cairns, Lab Director, 1963

James D. Watson Arrives at CSHL, 1968

James D. Watson arrived at CSHLQB from Harvard in 1968, to take over the directorship from John Cairns. That year he and Elizabeth Lewis were married and moved into Osterhout Cottage, which was rebuilt with funds from Watson. His immediate focus was on securing funding for a major new research objective, tumor viruses. With the help of his new hire, tumor virologist Joseph Sambrook, Watson obtained a five-year grant of $1.6 million from the National Institute of Health's War on Cancer program. Receipt of this federal grant had a major impact on the financial health of the Lab and set the stage for dramatic growth in research staff and facilities. By 1970, under Watson's direction, the Lab reported income that was nearly double that of the year before and the scientific staff had increased by 120%.


(For more information about James D. Watson, please see his personal collection at:    )





James D. Watson, Director, 1968                           Jim and Liz Watson, 1968

The "Sambrook Era" begins, 1969

Dr. Joseph Sambrook directed the research at James Laboratory for 16 years beginning in 1969, a time that came to be known as the Sambrook Era. His important and influential work on DNA tumor viruses gained long-term program support for CSHL from the National Cancer Institute. In 1972, as a result of Dr. Sambrook's efforts, CSHL received a $1 million Cancer Center grant created as part of the NIH War on Cancer program. With 2 renewals over the next 10 years, the 1985 CSHL Annual Report describes this support as being "the backbone of our cancer effort here."  Dr. Sambrook was also proudly recognized for his ability to organize an extraordinarily talented group of young scientists who together made the Laboratory a major, internationally recognized site for research on DNA tumor viruses.



Joe Sambrook, 1973

The CSHL Nobelists, 1969

The 1969 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Max Delbruck, Alfred Hershey and Salvador Luria. Each scientist made major contributions to the fields of genetics and bacterial genetics but the impact that they had on CSHL and its scientists is immeasurable. The Phage courses and the vision that these scientists shared with others is still recognized by many as an inspiration.



Left:Max Delbruck, Far right: Salvador Luria, 2nd right: Alfred Hershey, at the Nobel Ceremony, 1969

The Study of Yeast Genetics, 1970

In 1970, the Yeast Genetics course was introduced with Gerry Fink and Fred Sherman as course instructors. One of the legacies of the yeast course is that it helped to establish yeast as a model system in eukaryotic molecular biology.




Gerry Fink, Fred Sherman, 1979                Yeast Course Poster, 1970  

Neurobiology Program Begins at CSHL, 1971

In 1971, the first post graduate training courses in neurobiology are offered, Basic Principles of Neurobiology, and Experimental Techniques in Neurobiology. At that time, the Sloan Foundation gave financial assistance to the Lab to start the renovation of Animal House (now McClintock Lab) to provide a teaching laboratory for neurobiology. By 1979, a full-time neurobiology program began with Susan Hockfield, Ron McKay and Birgit Zipser.




Susan Hockfield, Birgit Zipser, 1979               Ron McKay, 1979 


The Robertson Research Fund, 1974

In 1973, Charles Robertson, the resident of a nearby estate and a philanthropist, approached Jim Watson, with the offer of a gift of almost $8 million to be used as an endowment for research. The Robertson Research Fund continues to be the most important endowment at the Laboratory. Two years later, in 1975, Charles Robertson established the Marie H. Robertson Memorial Fund for Neuroscience research at CSHL in memory of his late wife. When Robertson left Long Island, he donated his estate in Lloyd Harbor to the laboratory with an endowment for its upkeep as a conference center. The Banbury Conference Center was established on the Robertson property and opened on Sunday, June 14, 1977, with a talk by Francis Crick. The first meeting at the conference center was held in 1978.      



Elizabeth Watson, Charles Robertson, James Watson, 1974

Scientists and Research at CSHL, 1970s

The number of notable scientists who have spent a part of their careers at CSHL during the 1970s is striking. Some have continued their research here at CSHL and have become the driving force behind much of the research that is done here. Bruce Stillman began working in Demerec as a Staff Investigator in 1979, and Mike Wigler arrived, also to Demerec, in 1978. Other scientists who worked at the Lab during the 1970s include: Robert Pollack, who established the Mammalian Cell Genetics Laboratory at CSHL in 1970; Ahmad Bukhari conducted influencial research on movable genetic elements in 1971 with his study of bacteriophage Mu; Ulf Pettersson introduced research on adenovirus in 1973; Richard Roberts began the isolation of restriction enzymes in 1973; Roberts, Louise Chow, Thomas Broker and Richard Gelinas discover split genes in adenovirus in 1977; and James Garrels and John Farrar established the QUEST computer laboratory to analyze 2-dimensional protein gels in 1978.


Bruce Stillman, 1980


               Mike Wigler, 1982