Robert Waterston on Sydney Brenner
  Robert Waterston     Biography    
Recorded: 01 Jun 2003

Well, a good story about Sydney is that he would go off on the beach and relax. He wouldn’t go play tennis but—as I was saying he would come, he came for the second half of this course and every day his role was to talk to us for an hour and whatever we has chosen the day before. And it was a lively conversation cause it was not just Sydney lecturing it was more of a discussion. We would continue to ask questions and so forth.

And at the time my wife and my daughter and I were out there and we were living in the dorm. And so we were dependent upon the cafeteria for our meals and the cafeteria closed at 1:15. And so Sydney would be going out at 1:00—or maybe it closed at 1:30, but anyway there was a clear time limit on the other end of all this. And so Sydney would be going on in this animated discussion and come 1:15 or something my wife would show up outside the door because it was all open at Woods Hole. It wasn’t, you know, you didn’t have doors on rooms. And so she would stand there and sort of be looking anxious and all of a sudden she would somehow lose control of my daughter who was about 2 1/2. And Adrian would come and run and jump on my lap. And that was just about the, you know even Sydney couldn’t compete with that. I don’t he appreciated it.

Robert Waterston received his bachelor's degree in engineering from Princeton University (1965) and both an M.D. and a Ph.D. in pathology from the University of Chicago (1972). After a postdoctoral fellowship at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, he joined the Washington University faculty in 1976 where he is the James S. McDonnel Professor of Genetics, head of the Department of Genetics, and director of the School of Medicine’s Genome Sequencing Center, which he founded in 1993. In early 2003 Dr Waterston took on the role of Chair of the department of Genome Sciences at the University of Washington. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, was a recipient of the International Gairdner Award, the Genetics Society of America’s Beadle Award, the Dan David Prize, and the Alfred P. Sloan Award from the GM Cancer Research Foundation.

Waterston attended the worm meetings at Cold Spring Harbor Lab and in 1989 Watson supported Waterston’s proposal to use the worm as a model organism in the Human Genome Project.