Barbara McClintock: Ahead of Her Time
Sometime in the middle seventies, during one of my visits to Barbara, she said something that now seems remarkably prescient. I had been excitedly telling her about the regulation of a complex inducible response to DNA damage in E.coli. Barbara was not very impressed. She said it was fine that we now understood another genetic regulatory circuit, but did we have any idea of it, she asked, how does it work together in that tiny cell with all the other regulatory circuits we can diagram? There must be a level of regulation about which we know nothing, she went on, that allows those thousands of proteins to find their targets instantly, to keep everything working smoothly together. Then she said that we will not be able to approach this integrative regulation until computers become more sophisticated. Twenty-five years later, we may just be there.