Gerald Rubin on Planning the New Howard Hughes Campus
  Gerald Rubin     Biography    
Recorded: 30 May 2003

Well, I’m a person who likes change and so I get easily bored. I probably had attention deficit disorder, I think. No, I’m serious, when I was in the second grade my teacher felt my i.q. was below 70 and that I couldn’t stay in the class with the normal children. I had to go in the special class and ______I. Q. test, and then they decided that I was not mentally retarded but that I was an emotionally disturbed underachiever, which is probably a better label to have. So I have think I probably would have been different if I had had Ritalin when I was a kid. I still suffer from this. So I like change. And I found I like big projects. So part of doing the genome project was that I found I actually liked sort of managing, science management, you know. Not like being a dean, but dealing with scientific projects and that. And so when Tom Cech, who is a friend of mine, became president of Hughes in 2000, offered me to the vice-president there, I thought this was a chance to do something new and maybe ______I’ve been in the lab for twenty five years, maybe I can have that more positive impact on life by helping to make sure that this money is spent wisely, so that’s when I became a vice-president at Howard Hughes three years ago. I still keep a lab. I spent one week a month at Berkeley. I ____a research lab because I can’t not think about not doing science, some, even if it’s just for my own amusement, not because I expect to discover anything wonderful. And _____have evolved and right now I’m planning this new campus that Howard Hughes is building in Virgina. And so this is an experiment. It’s in sociology, anthropology of science, how people work together, what kind of environment you need to create to foster science because I think the way that science is done in U.S. universities in not very good. So from my experience have said that Cold Spring Harbor, the MRC, Stanford Biochemistry which is very nice about both _____________, they’re all untypical places, or I think they’re much better than the typical university where I’ve been like Berkeley. Although Berkeley is very nice for a university. I don’t like that kind of setting. I think that people too soon in their careers get driven out of the lab and into being managers. You get trained as a student and a postdoc to be a functioning scientist, and then they say, okay, you’ve done a good job. Now you have a job, now you’re not a functioning scientist. Now you’re running a small business, you’re raising grants, you’re hiring, firing. So I think there needs to be more places like the MRC lab was in Cambridge, like Bell Labs was where individuals can go and actually work in the lab and be functioning scientists for a longer part of their career. And so that’s what we’re trying to create. So this is great fun because I look at this as an experiment in sociology.

Gerald Rubin is a geneticist, molecular and cell biologist. As Director of the Berkeley Drosophila Genome Project, he led the sequencing of the entire fruit fly genome. Currently, as Vice President and Director of the Janelia Farm Research Campus at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Ashburn, Virginia, his research focus is on developing the biological and computer tools that are capable of analyzing and displaying the vast amount of information available from the genomic DNA sequencing of the fruit fly. He uses these advanced techniques to decipher gene regulation and expression at a genome-wide level in Drosophila and determine the function of certain fruit fly genes.

Gerald Rubin is also a professor of Genetics and Development at the University of California, Berkeley. He came to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory as an URP (Undergraduate Research Program) in the early 70’s working under Lionel Crawford and Ray Gesteland before moving to Cambridge to earn his Ph.D. in molecular biology. He did postdoctoral work at Stanford University School of Medicine and became an assistant professor of biological chemistry at Harvard Medical School prior to commencing his genetics professorship at Berkeley in 1983.

Gerald Rubin is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine. Among the awards he has received is the American Chemical Society Eli Lilly Award in biological chemistry.