Bruce Alberts on National Academy of Sciences: Science Policy and the Human Genome Project
  Bruce Alberts     Biography    
Recorded: 22 Aug 2008

So I mean, the real question is, how did I ever get involved in science policy? And it was an accident. I got elected to the National Academy of Sciences because of my work on DNA replication in 1981. And then all that time I was getting then these mailings from the Academy about all these science policies studies they were doing. And I still remember sitting in my office at UCSF saying, Oh, I’m glad somebody’s doing this, but I have no time to even think about it. Which, you know, is the way scientists are in certain-absorbed in your own lab and your own research. And then in 1987 I was sitting in my office and I got a call from the Academy. Actually John Burris who is now the President of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, just recently. But anyway, he was then a staff officer in the Board of Biology at the National Academy of Sciences. And he has-he was staffing the volunteer committee of outstanding scientists to answer the question about whether there should be a special project to map and sequence the human genome in the United States. And I had actually been reading a little bit about this in various places like "Science" magazine. I still remember Bob Sinsheimer had proposed that this be done and my recognition is thinking about it might be done in prisons, because it was going to 30,000 person years of sequencing. We could make use of all this cheap labor. But it turns out, as I …there had been a meeting the previous summer at Cold Spring Harbor. I wasn’t even aware of it. Jim Watson had argued strongly for a genome project. Special project. Dave Botstein, on the other hand, and others had argued this was nonsense.

Bruce Alberts, currently Editor-in-chief of Science, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysic at the University of California and United States Science Envoy. He received A.B. (1960) in Biochemical Science from Harvard College, Cambridge, Massachusetts and Ph.D. (1965) from Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 1966 he joined Department of Chemistry at the Princeton University and after 10 years he became professor and vice chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysic at the UCSF.

Alberts work is best known for his work on the protein complexes that allow chromosomes to be replicated. He is one of the authors of The Molecular Biology of the Cell, a major textbook in the field. He served two-six years terms as a president of National Academy of Science (1993-2005). During his administration at NAS, he was involved in developing the landmark of National Science Education standards.

Among many honors and awards (16 honorary degrees), he is Co-chair of the InterAcademy Council and a trustee of Gordon and Betty Moore Fundation.

More Information: Wikipedia, UCSF