Hamilton Smith on Sharing Scientific Data, Now and Then
  Hamilton Smith     Biography    
Recorded: 03 Mar 2006

For example, with the restriction work, we in February, when we had sent the paper off—actually before it was accepted we had sent to the Hopkins printing press to run off a whole bunch of mimeographed copies, about forty copies of each paper. We made up a list of everyone in the world who might be interested in the restriction work and just mailed the things out because it was a quick form of publication. Of course nowadays you’d never do that I guess, probably would have patented it and ruined the whole thing. Yeah, it was a smaller world. Everybody communicated. You didn’t worry about whether anybody was going to steal an idea or anything like that. By and large, I mean there were some people that were more sensitive than others. Well, in the early meetings some of the scientists would get up and present ideas, you know, like Streisinger would talk about terminal redundancy mechanisms and things like that, really giving away stuff that somebody else could go out and do experiments and publish it. But nobody worried about that. Everybody just talked about their work with total freedom, I think.

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.