February 26 and March 2, 2003, we sent a crew to the Biology
of DNA conference at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long
Island to bring you an insider's view of the informal side
of science, a perspective seldom seen. At the conference,
we conducted live Webcast interviews with many of the current
luminaries in the field, including several who have garnered
Nobel prizes. In the programs, you'll hear their views on
significant DNA discoveries as well as the achievements they
hope to see in the future. Our webcasts, along with postings
from our crew in the field, serve as a interpretive guide
to a scientific event that the public would otherwise not
Jan Witkowski is Executive Director of the Banbury Center
of Cold Spring Harbor and is responsible for organizing some
20 meetings a year. Dr. Witkowski talks with us about the
purpose of scientific meetings, about science as a social
endeavor, and about some of the interesting people, events,
and science stories that we can look forward to during the
Biology of DNA meeting, which he coorganized with Dr. David
Stewart, Director of Meetings and Courses at CSHL.
Dr. Walter Gilbert, a physicist
who turned to molecular biology in 1960, won the Nobel prize
in chemistry in 1980 for determining the base sequences of
DNA. His recent research has concentrated on the structure
of genes and the evolution of DNA sequences. In this Webcast,
Dr Gilbert tells us how physicists have helped drive discoveries
in molecular biology, and the relationship between private
and university research efforts.
Dr. Sydney Brenner won the Nobel
prize in physiology or medicine in 2002 for his work with
the tiny nematode, C. elegans. Dr. Brenner recruited
the one-millimeter worm in the early sixties as the ideal
model organism to study cell differentiation and organ development.
In this program, he describes how new model organisms are
established for studying basic physiology, recounts his reaction
to seeing Watson and Crick's DNA model for the first time,
and offers advice to young scientists just starting out.
Carol Greider is a professor of molecular biology and
genetics at Johns Hopkins University. She worked with molecular
biologist Elizabeth Blackburn to discover the role of telomeres—segments
of DNA that protect and stabilize the ends of chromosomes.
Dr. Greider tells us about her work and shares her thoughts
about the importance of mentors for women in science.
Bruce Stillman is the Director of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory,
a position he inherited from James Watson in 1994. He continues
his own research at the lab on DNA replication. In this program,
Dr. Stillman describes the unique culture of science at CSHL,
explores future directions of research, and tells us what
he learned as an administrator for Dr. Watson.
James Watson is the President of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
and the codiscoverer of the double helix, for which he won
a Nobel prize in physiology or medicine in 1962. Dr. Watson
was also the first director of the Human Genome Project. He
talks with us about early discoveries in molecular biology,
the Human Genome Project, and what makes Cold Spring Harbor
a unique scientific institution.
Dr. Francis Collins is the Director
of the National Human Genome Research Institute, which is
responsible for coordinating the government-sponsored effort
to map and sequence the entire human genome, considered by
many as one of the most important scientific undertakings
of our time. Dr. Collins is a physician and geneticist whose
own work led to the identification of the genes for cystic
fibrosis, neurofibromatosis, and Huntington's disease. In
this Webcast, Dr. Collins explains the different strategies
for finding disease genes, the competition between public
and private efforts to decode the human genome, and the next
steps for the Human Genome Project, now that the first accurate
gene maps have been created.
Eric Lander is a leading figure in the Human Genome Project
and director of the Whitehead Institute Center for Genome
Research. He has a background in mathematics and has applied
novel statistical approaches to genetic analysis. In this
program, Dr. Lander tells us about the recently completed
mouse genome and how the study of other genomes gives key
information about human genetics and evolution.