Mary Jane Gething on Writing in Science
  Mary Jane Gething     Biography    
Recorded: 16 Jan 2003
Well, probably the very best and most exciting data will see the light of day even if it’s badly written. But I think being able to communicate very clearly what the importance of the work is and how—not to obfuscate it at all in detail, I mean Joe writes fabulously well.

The most important papers are the ones that are scientifically important, but also beautiful in the way they’re presented as well. I think it is important.

What I thought you were starting to ask, is when you write and it’s—I have always, it’s probably for me a bit of inertia about it as well. But I much prefer to write more rarely but a really good and complete paper. I’m not a person who can chop projects up into bites and publish the bites. Then you get many more, you know, publications and your C.V. looks longer and so on, but I don’t think it’s a satisfying way to read science, to have a whole lot of little bits. But it is—it’s probably a balance because if you delay too long, you know you don’t get the joy of being first. But Joe and my motto has always been if you’re not first, you still must be best! It’s got to be the best on the subject even if it’s not the first paper that comes out on the subject. And to write it well is obviously a joy as well.

Mary-Jane Gething, biochemist is Head of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Melbourne where she earned her Ph.D. in Biochemistry in 1974. Subsequently she went to Cambridge to do post-doctoral work.

In 1976, she moved to London to work on protein sequencing and in 1980, Gething and Joseph Sambrook received a NATO grant for travel to collaborate on virus research. She began working at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in 1982 where she continued her research of proteins. In 1985, Gething and Sambrook moved to Dallas to work at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. They moved back to Australia in 1994.

Her current research involves protein folding in the cell and the role of molecular chaperone BiP.