Geneticist Ray Wu dies

Geneticist and genetic engineering pioneer Ray Wu died on February 10 of cardiac arrest. He was 79. In 1970, Wu developed a new location-specific primer-extension technique that became the first method of sequencing DNA. In the following decade, Frederick Sanger adapted the approach for faster sequencing, and received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the work in 1980. Wu's lab also devised other approaches that were used to analyze genetic sequences and to construct vectors for cloning genes,

Alla Katsnelson
Feb 18, 2008
Geneticist and genetic engineering pioneer Ray Wu died on February 10 of cardiac arrest. He was 79. In 1970, Wu developed a new location-specific primer-extension technique that became the first method of sequencing DNA. In the following decade, Frederick Sanger adapted the approach for faster sequencing, and received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the work in 1980. Wu's lab also devised other approaches that were used to analyze genetic sequences and to construct vectors for cloning genes, many of which remain in use. A 1985 linkurl:paper;http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/pagerender.fcgi?artid=341170&pageindex=1#page from Wu's group describing the use of cDNA probes to analyze the evolutionary history of a gene family has been cited more than 1800 times. linkurl:Jack Szostak;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/53763/ of Harvard Medical School, who worked in Wu's lab a Cornell University as a grad student and postdoc between 1973 and 1979, remembered his advisor as a person who gave people in the lab the freedom...
er-extension technique that became the first method of sequencing DNA. In the following decade, Frederick Sanger adapted the approach for faster sequencing, and received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the work in 1980. Wu's lab also devised other approaches that were used to analyze genetic sequences and to construct vectors for cloning genes, many of which remain in use. A 1985 linkurl:paper;http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/pagerender.fcgi?artid=341170&pageindex=1#page from Wu's group describing the use of cDNA probes to analyze the evolutionary history of a gene family has been cited more than 1800 times. linkurl:Jack Szostak;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/53763/ of Harvard Medical School, who worked in Wu's lab a Cornell University as a grad student and postdoc between 1973 and 1979, remembered his advisor as a person who gave people in the lab the freedom to explore ideas. "He was always encouraging and the lab was exciting because we felt that we were at the frontiers of science," Szostak wrote in an Email to The Scientist. Wu's group used the novel genetic engineering techniques they developed to insert foreign genes into rice; the idea was to improve yields of cereal crops in the developing world. A technique he developed in 2002 for producing high-yield rice resistant to environmental factors such as drought, salinity and insect attack is now being developed for commercial use, Cornell geneticist Susan McCouch linkurl:told;http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/california/la-me-wu18feb18,1,4418796.story the Los Angeles Times. "Where rice is grown, everyone knows Ray Wu," she said. Wu was born in China in 1928 and came to the US when he was 20 years old. In 1966, he joined the biochemistry and molecular biology faculty of Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. In the 1980s, he founded and ran an initiative that brought more than 400 top Chinese students in biochemistry and molecular biology to train in the US. Throughout his career, he served on several Chinese, Taiwanese and international advisory councils on genetic engineering and biotechnology. Wu is survived by his wife and two children.Image: Cornell University

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