Ulf Pettersson on Joe Sambrook
  Ulf Pettersson     Biography    
Recorded: 20 Aug 2003

Yes, again, Joe is also a very special person. I think when he came here it wasn’t really clear who was appointed the leader of James, but it became very clear that Joe was the one who took on that role. He is a fantastic person, very inspiring. And all of those informal discussions, I think that were so fantastic that took place in James. You wonder how really the leadership was accomplished because in those days Jim was never really in James and discussing with scientists at the bench. And most people didn’t see him very much. But still I’m sure he had a tremendous influence. I mean, not in the least by just who was hired and then what fields to work in.

But here [Joe] was a source of inspiration. He was also, I think, a clear person who knew the distinction between good and bad science. So I think he kept us all doing the important things, and keeping us from just doing meaningless experiments.

But again, sort of very informal things, those scientific directions were accomplished in very informal ways.

He’s a rather odd person. Like Jim is an unusual person. Now I just have many fond memories of him, and the spirit that he has sort of created in James was fantastic.

Ulf Pettersson, geneticist and virologist, is the vice-president of the University of Upssala in Sweden, a professor of medical genetics, and a leader of a group on genetic disease in the Department of Genetics and Pathology. His scientific research is focused on finding genes linked with diseases such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

After finishing his medical degree in Sweden and his thesis on adenovirus proteins, he came to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. He worked as a postdoc alongside Joe Sambrook and Rich Roberts. He researched transcription and the methods by which to grow and extract adenovirus DNA and studied how to use restriction enzymes to map viral chromosomes. His work led to the understanding of how the chromosome is organized and how transcription takes place. In the 80’s he slowly altered his concentration from virology to genetics.

After leaving Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in 1973 he became a professor of microbiology at the University of Uppsala and then chairman of the Department of Medical Genetics. He was a member of the Human Genome Organisation (HUGO) (1992-1998), and is currently a member of both the Finnish Academy of Sciences and the Royal Academy of Sciences.