- In his nearly three decades of leadership in the natural sciences at The Rockefeller Foundation, Warren Weaver contributed substantially to the mid-twentieth century revolution in biology and agricultural science. A veritable polymath, over a lifetime, Weaver also contributed significantly to mathematics, statistics, physics, and computer science and to various scientific associations (1). In the early 1930s, he persuaded Alexander Hollaender, a highly regarded radiobiologist, to survey the literature and write a report for The Rockefeller Foundation on the biological effects of radiation.
- This article is a survey of my scientific work over 52 years. During my postdoctoral stay in Severo Ochoa's laboratory, I determined the direction of reading of the genetic message, and I discovered two proteins that I showed to be involved in the initiation of protein synthesis. The work I have done in Spain with bacteriophage φ29 for 45 years has been very rewarding. I can say that I was lucky because I did not expect that φ29 would give so many interesting results, but I worked hard, with a lot of dedication and enthusiasm, and I was there when the luck arrived.
- In reflecting on the past 80 years, at least as they have affected me, it seems that fate (or nature or God, take your choice) has dealt me an unusually good hand. For example, my father and brother both had serious coronary heart attacks in their early 50s. While I was developing the same blocked arteries, methods were being devised to treat the condition with stents and statins. Much of my good fortune has been dumb luck like this, simply being in the right place at the right time. I know it is hyperbole, but growing up in the fields of biochemistry and biology has been a little like growing up as a musician in 18th century and early 19th century Vienna.
- Having been offered the opportunity to contribute one of the episodes of this series of personal history accounts, I have chosen to write about circumstances that led me to the start of the scientific path that I have followed for the past forty odd years. My account deals with a period of approximately six years and with events that I have written about recently (1); although I have been conscientious about avoiding overt self-plagiarism (at least the kind that is detected by computer programs), I also hope to have added some additional perspective.