Jerry Adams on Joe Sambrook
  Jerry Adams     Biography    
Recorded: 15 Jan 2003

I think Joe [Sambrook] probably had a wonderful influence on the lab. As I mentioned before I think Jim has never been that involved with the details of experiments. He’s always been more involved with the big concepts and so forth. So he probably desperately needed someone to really make the lab, to provide the real tools for making tumor virus work the focus. And then Joe was that person. So I think he probably had an extremely important role in that period of Cold Spring Harbor’s development where the DNA tumor viruses were the dominant theme, the molecular tools. So all that work led to many discoveries about the role of tumor antigens as key determinants of tumorgenicity. And the work on adenovirus which involved Phil Sharp, who of course went ahead to make the great discovery about splicing which Ashley Dunn was involved in. Perhaps he can talk more about that when you talk to him.

Jerry Adams, currently Professor and Joint Head of Molecular Genetics of Cancer Division of The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, is noted for his achievements in molecular biology, immunology and the molecular genetics of cancer. After completing his BSc in Chemistry at Emory University in 1962, he completed his Ph.D. at Harvard under James Watson. During this time, Adams and Mario Capecchi discovered the initiation mechanism for polypeptides. Adams earned his degree in 1967 and went on to do post-doctoral work at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England, where he met his wife, Suzanne Cory. They did further research in Geneva, and in 1972 joined The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Australia.

Adams and his research team have made many major contributions to medical science. They were the first to clone mammalian genes in Australia and discovered: (i) that antibody genes encode to recombine in a myriad of ways to fight infection; (ii) the genetic mutation that leads to Burkitt’s lymphoma and (iii) the connection between apoptosis and cancer, while studying bcl-2 gene in follicular lymphoma (with David Vaux).

Adams is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science (1986), a Fellow of the Royal Society of London (1992), a Fellow of the Royal Society of Victoria (1997) and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.