Memories from CSHL: Adenoviral RNA organization
While I was at Baylor College of Medicine at Texas Medical Center in Houston, Texas in 1986 performing my PhD thesis under Dr. Robert Ochs as a visiting student of the National University of Mexico, I attended a seminar by David Spector, who was at that time working at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. After that excellent seminar I thought I wanted to do research under him after I completed my PhD. After I received my PhD in Mexico, I wrote to David and asked to join him as a posdoctoral fellow. By 1992, I finally arranged to be in New York. In a letter David wrote to me, he stated that if I came to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, I was going to be exposed to state-of-the-art technology. I did not imagine that I was indeed going to be exposed to that and also to the opportunity to meet many very important people in science.
At that time, David was opening the door to a novel view of nuclear structure under the optics of cellular organization of splicing. When I came first to CSHL, fortunately, I met Richard Roberts and I realized the importance of splicing. Afterwards, I was involved in a project regarding adenoviral RNA organization into infected cells. That investigation derived from the conclusion that splicing factors were recruited to active sites of transcription in vivo. But many things happened during that time, both personally and scientifically. In fact, that was a time that was very touchy in my future thinking as a cell biologist.
David motivated me to think in a different manner. I was obligated to obtain extremely clear results under the microscope. Indeed, David made me work to get very good images to demonstrate exactly I wanted to demonstrate. What David did not mention to me, or at least I do not remember, is that I was going to meet many important people in addition to him and James Watson at CSHL. As I said, I had the opportunity to meet many people and to live many important situations at CSHL that changed my way of thinking.
One of those situations was the moment I met Dr. Barbara McClintock. It was a sunday in 1992 at approximately noon. I had decided to continue some experiments on adenovirus to localize its RNA during infections and I was about to leave the laboratory. Suddenly, while I was walking in front of the Cairns laboratory, I saw a person that I concluded was Dr. Barbara McClintock. She was walking, holding a bag, I had heard how intimidating she was but I decided to approach her to talk.
What I decided to talk about was a topic that I thought I had something to say about. I said hello and I introduced myself. Then I told her that I studied the nucleolus and that I knew about her 1934 McClintock paper on the nucleolar organizer. What a surprise! She remembered the paper very clearly and we started to talk about it. At that time I thought that she would just want to talk about jumping genes but it was clear that she was very interested in the nucleolar organizer as well. I had the opportunity to talk to her a couple of times, and I was told that she even spent time in Mexico at the Postgraduate College (Colegio de Postgraduados) giving lectures on maize. That really touched me. The last time I saw her was during Ric Roberts's farewell in 1992. At that time Dr. McClintock and Rich Roberts were talking while I just listened. The next morning while I was driving to the lab, I listened to the radio and heard that Dr. McClintock just died. I knew that I was not going to see her again. The nucleolar organizer region concept, however, was still there.
David Spector offered me the opportunity to work in nuclear structure in a way that I did not think about before, he also gave me the opportunity to know about such a place as Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and the people who worked there. I lived many more experiences at CSHL, but they are too many that I can not summarize them all at this time.
Last edited by Kirill : 07-12-2006 at 11:07 AM.