- 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.
- I was born on April 2, 1942 in Strasbourg in the sad time when Alsace was occupied and ruled by Hitler's Nazis. Like many in Alsace, my father, who was in the French Army in 1939, became a malgré-nous during Nazi occupation and was forcibly conscripted into the Wehrmacht in 1943. This was retaliation for refusing to wear the German uniform of railway employees while working at his stationmaster job near Strasbourg. He was quickly sent to the front in Russia and killed near Minsk in January 1944.
- For the past fifty-five years, much of my research has focused on the function and biogenesis of red blood cells, including the cloning and study of many membrane proteins such as glucose and anion transporters and the erythropoietin receptor. We have also elucidated the mechanisms of membrane insertion, folding, and maturation of many plasma membrane and secreted proteins. Despite all of this work and more, I remain extremely proud of our very early work on the regulation of mRNA translation: work on bacteriophage f2 RNA in the 1960s and on translation of α- and β-globin mRNAs in the early 1970s.