Recorded: 04 Jun 2001
I was hired by John Cairns before Jim Watson came. I came in 1967, does that sound right? Yeah, ’67. And it was at a time when the Lab was in desperate straits, as you probably know from having talked to John Cairns, and I, of course, realized this but found the magnetic attraction of John Cairns, especially, and the Laboratory, to be overwhelming so I – some said foolishly – took this job at this destitute institution when there were perfectly reasonable academic jobs sitting out there.
I was a postdoc in Alfred Tissieres’ and Pierce Barrs’ lab in Geneva, and I was, from that distance, looking for jobs back in this country and actually found the academic jobs I was looking at to be pretty boring prospects compared to the thought of coming here. Jim, at that point, was in Paris and asked me to stop by and see him. I went to Paris and talked to him and there was a clear unstated implication that I shouldn’t worry about the future of the Lab, it was going to be all right.
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.