- My Ph.D. thesis in the laboratory of Severo Ochoa at New York University School of Medicine in 1962 included the determination of the nucleotide compositions of codons specifying amino acids. The experiments were based on the use of random copolyribonucleotides (synthesized by polynucleotide phosphorylase) as messenger RNA in a cell-free protein-synthesizing system. At Yale University, where I joined the faculty, my co-workers and I first studied the mechanisms of protein synthesis. Thereafter, we explored the interferons (IFNs), which were discovered as antiviral defense agents but were revealed to be components of a highly complex multifunctional system.
- The usual scientific paper follows a rather narrowly (but not ever rigidly) defined pattern. Both the author and the journal like to see a linear logical presentation of a “story.” Seldom does the paper give the reader the “backstory.” Where did the idea come from in the first place? How many false leads led down blind alleys? What happened by chance and what by logical planning? Was there an element of serendipity involved? Perhaps as we enter the paperless era and do not have to count words quite so religiously, it may be possible to encourage a more freewheeling scientific paper, but for now, we have to rely on the historians of science and/or those who “tell all” about their own research.
- I was born and raised in a small town in southeastern Kansas called Hepler. I attended grammar school and high school in Hepler, and the student body of the high school was approximately 100. The United States entered World War II during my sophomore year, and accelerated programs allowed me to skip my senior year, so I enrolled in college in the summer of 1943. I was 16 years old. I also volunteered for the United States Air Force cadet training program when I was 16. I enrolled in Valparaiso University in Indiana in the fall of 1943; however, my first year at Valpo was not terribly productive.