Celebrating 60 Years of the Cold Spring Harbor Phage Course

This weekend, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Phage Course with a two day symposium led by some of today?s most notable molecular biologists. First organized by Max Delbruck in 1945, the course has been instrumental in shaping the field of molecular biology. Delbruck assembled a small but diverse group of scientists to tackle fundamental biological questions using phage as a simple model system.

By | June 26, 2005

This weekend, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Phage Course with a two day symposium led by some of today?s most notable molecular biologists. First organized by Max Delbruck in 1945, the course has been instrumental in shaping the field of molecular biology. Delbruck assembled a small but diverse group of scientists to tackle fundamental biological questions using phage as a simple model system. By the mid-1970s, cloning and transposons sparked a genetic revolution, and the modern incarnation of the phage course was formed, now called Advanced Bacterial Genetics. The symposium's focus both highlights the impact of the course on modern molecular genetics and includes discussion of hot new areas of bacterial genetics research by outstanding scientists in the field ? each of whom has been instrumental in the ongoing evolution of the course. This morning?s speakers included Jeffrey Miller, John Roth, Frank Stahl, Allan Campbell, Sankar Adhya, and Winfried Boos, discussing a range of topics including crossover interference, phage integration systems, and gene repair. In the afternoon, we lunched at Ballybung, home of CSHL president James Watson and his lovely wife, Elizabeth, where we enjoyed the opportunity to meet one another over a delightful meal, and partake of the Watson?s breathtaking view of the harbor and their kind hospitality. Following our afternoon at Ballybung, attendees reconvened at Grace auditorium to hear Tom Silhavy discuss a novel approach to studying E. coli outer membrane biogenesis; Don Court speak of lambda Red-mediated homologous recombination with oligonucleotides; Stan Maloy on arrangement and rearrangement of the bacterial chromosome; and lastly, Maynard Olson, who gave an elegant talk on molecular evolution of bacteria during chronic infection. One of my favorite scientists to interview, Dr. Olson never fails to tell a captivating story. At the conclusion of today's sessions, we were then whisked off to Banbury, on the other side of the harbor, for cocktails and dinner of filet mignon and swordfish ? a far cry from the vending machine that fueled my glucose rushes during graduate school. When the vans returned everyone back to our rooms at CSHL late this evening (also graciously provided for me gratis by CSHL), I was struck by one thing ? if today?s teachers and professors communicated science to their students with the same enthusiasm and passion that was evident here today, then young people would have a very different perception of science. It certainly explains the success of the ABG course. So this issue of communicating science leads me to my next blog?

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