John Sulston, winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, will offer the Eric Holtzman Memorial Lecture, entitled "The Common Thread: Society and the Human Genome." The lecture will be held on Monday, November 11, at 4:00 p.m. in Davis Auditorium, 4th Floor Schapiro Center for Engineering & Physical Science Research. Sulston will discuss the issue of public versus private ownership of scientific information, particularly as it relates to his involvement in the human genome sequencing project.
In 1969 Sulston joined the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology. There he worked on the biology of the nematode, caenorhabditis elegans, studying particularly its cell lineage and its genome. A collaboration between his group and a group at Washington University, St. Louis, produced one of the earliest genome maps, and in 1990 they went on to sequence it, completing the task in 1998 -- the first animal genome to be sequenced.
In 1992 the Wellcome Trust accepted a proposal to begin sequencing the human genome, and the Sanger Centre was founded in the U.K., with Sulston as director. The Centre is devoted to genomic studies in a variety of model organisms and parasites as well as human. Sulston stepped down as director in September 2000.
Sulston was knighted in the 2001 New Year's Honors List. He has received the Darwin Medal of the Royal Society, two Gairdner awards, the Rosenstiel award, the General Motors Sloan Prize and the Dan David Prize and was a co-recipient of the W. Alden Spencer prize from Columbia. In 2000 he became an honorary fellow of Pembroke College, Cambridge, and received an honorary ScD from Trinity College, Dublin.
The Eric Holtzman Memorial Lecture was established in 1995, in honor of the 27-year Columbia professor of biological sciences, and is funded by contributions from Holtzman's friends, colleagues and students. The lecture brings scientists to the Columbia community to speak on broad issues in the study of science, science education and the impact of science on society, all subjects that Holtzman embraced in addition to his commitment to his research.