The 2016 Lasker~Koshland Special Achievement Award honoree, Bruce Alberts, shares memories from his early education, what influenced his decision to pursue science, his career path through PhD, postdoc and faculty, his position as Editor-in-chief at Science magazine, his two terms as President of the National Academy of Sciences and the writing of the now classic Molecular Biology of the Cell textbook. The interview was conducted by the Oral History Center at UC Berkeley in 2012. This candid conversation includes many insights from Albert’s experience as a student, supervisor and teacher. It is also a fascinating account of how science education, training and publishing has evolved over the last several decades in some of the nation’s leading institutions.
“Around me were all these people racing, unsuccessfully, to beat out other labs in getting the next codon. I felt that that was an awful kind of science to do, because even if they beat the other lab by a month, they weren’t really contributing anything. So part of my conclusion, in thinking about how to do science, was to always try to do something that would not be done by other people.”
Alberts also talks about his friend and colleague Daniel Koshland, Jr. Koshland was himself a recipient of the 1998 Lasker Special Achievement Award and he subsequently served as Chair of the Lasker Public Service Award Jury from 2000-2007. Koshland is also one of the key supporters of the Lasker Foundation. Alberts shares many memories of Koshland in this interview.
“He was a tremendous force at Berkeley [University], and all the people on the right side of history really appreciated him.”