Recorded: 14 Aug 2003
Well, I don’t know where [the term] came from. It might have come from Jim. Jim’s been lucky—I don't know if Jim's been lucky. Jim has been insightful. And he’s also been at the right place and around the right people. And if that’s luck then so be it. I think a lot of fate. But I think he’s also helped it happen. He did talk to people like his mentors when he was a graduate student about what to do. They suggested some things; that if he ended up taking a different path [it was] at his instigation.
But I’m not so sure it’s entirely luck. There are a lot of people who have the opportunities—or not a lot, but there are few very smart people who have the opportunities that Jim has had, to do what he has done. And a lot of them haven't done it. I mean even bookending his scientific contributions from the double helix to the human genome. And it was Jim that saw the vision of going after the human genome once the discussion had got to the stage where it became a reality. And he became the first director. There are a lot of people who could have had that vision to do that but didn’t. I think that it’s not so much luck, actually.
But then Jim has been unlucky—in, in his—I think that he would be the first to say that. It hasn’t been an easy life having someone who has mental illness like his son Rufus. And you can say "Well, you know, that’s not luck, that’s bad luck."
Molecular biologist and biochemist, Bruce Stillman, received his Ph.D. from the John Curtain School of Medical Research at the Australian National University in 1979. His long affiliation with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory began in 1979 when he arrived as a postdoctoral fellow. He became a member of the scientific staff (1981), Senior Scientist (1985), Assistant Director (1990), Director and Chief Executive Officer (1994), and President (2003), the position he currently holds. Stillman has also been Director of the Cancer Center at CSHL since 1992.
His research concerns DNA replication, yeast genetics, cell cycle and chromatin structure. His work has elucidated the reason why DNA sequences and silenced states of chromatin are pass through generations. His lab is concerned with understanding the mechanisms and regulation of DNA replication in eukaryotic cells, a process that ensures accurate duplication and inheritance of genetic material from one cell generation to the next.
Bruce Stillman has received numerous awards and honors and research awards. He was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society (1993), and as a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (2000).