Tim Tully on Writing Scientific Papers: Is Style Important?
  Tim Tully     Biography    
Recorded: 01 Aug 2003

Absolutely. There again I benefited by my local environment. I wouldn’t say I was a good writer. I was average in English and grammar. I don’t have a very good command of vocabulary. I’m just regular. But I married a journalist. She was a copy editor in particular. She edited drafts of my thesis. She taught me newspaper style editing for what you write. Write in simple declarative sentences. You know, there’s an inverted pyramid when you start and a pyramid when you end. All of this structure to proper communication. Actually by the time I finished the thesis, maybe one paper later, Nancy actually conceded that I was a good student and that I had learned everything that she could teach me. She did make me a good writer from that perspective. The message is to listen to your wife. Of course, you have to learn how to write. It’s the same thing as communicating it to your mother. If you can’t write well, you can’t communicate well. There is a very distinct grammatical style to clear writing. It’s not art. It’s science. There’s a structure to it. It can be learned easily and when you do it, you yourself will see that you can begin to communicate your ideas in a clearer fashion by simply arranging them correctly on a paper.

Tim Tully is a molecular geneticist, interested in finding the genetic and biological basis of memory in order to better identify pharmacological and behavioral treatments for memory loss. In 1981, he received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois. Tully joined the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory staff in 1991 to work on discovering genes involved with memory. He became the St. Giles Foundation Professor of Neuroscience and led the Drosophila learning and memory program. In 1998 he founded Helicon Therapeutics, Inc., a development-stage biotechnology firm that works on new therapies for memory loss and other cognition disorders. In June, 2007, Tully left Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to become Helicon's Acting Chief Scientific Officer, and assume a key role in the Michigan-based Dart Foundation as it expands its interest in funding neuroscience research.

His work on the transcriptional factor CREB gave way to the first experimental demonstration of enhanced memory formation in genetically engineered animals. Tully works to identify genes involved with long-term memory formation. Tully has determined that by the regulation of gene expression, new, long-term memories can be formed due to the growth of new synapses.