Michael Ashburner on Barbara McClintock
  Michael Ashburner     Biography    
Recorded: 03 Jul 2003

Just to see Barbara I used to come here [CSHL] quite a lot for meetings and for courses and then we started the book publishing here. I’d always go and pay my respects to Barbara. I’d always go down to her office and we’d talk. For a period she would off-load her Drosophila reprints on me. I actually have all of Barbara’s reprints from Curt Stern, from Dobzhansky, from Goldschmidt and various other people. She’d give them to me. These are great—I shouldn’t say because the lab will want them back— particularly ones from before the war, they are annotated in red or blue pencil. And we’d talk genetics. She was wonderful, a wonderful person to talk to, but she was a bit touchy. I remember once I met her on the bridge going over to Demerec. I’d just arrived and I saw her there. I said, “Hey Barbara. How are you?” She said, “Why do people keep asking about my health?” [I said] “okay, okay.”

Michael Ashburner, a leader in Drosophila Genetics and bioinformatics, received his B.A. (1964), M.A. (1968), Ph.D. (1968) and Sc.D. (1978) from the University of Cambridge, where he is currently professor of Biology in the Department of Genetics and a Professional Fellow of Churchill College.

He has been the joint head of European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI), of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) and was co-founder of Flybase, the primary online database for Drosophila genetics and molecular biology, the Gene Ontology Consortium, an effort to coordinate biological databases through a defined taxonomy of gene function, and the Crete Meetings, a bi-annual event focusing on the developmental and molecular biology of Drosophila melanogaster.

Among many honors, he is the recipient of the G.J. Mendel Medal (Czech Republic 1998) and the George W. Beadle Medal (Genetics Society of America 1999).

Michael Ashburner