Evelyn Witkin provides a historical perspective on how working at Cold Spring Harbor (CSH) shaped her scientific career and led to the discovery of the SOS DNA damage response in bacteria. At CSH she worked with the pioneers of bacterial genetics, at a time when there was a major discovery every other week. As a PhD student Witkin observed that some bacteria were able to survive high doses of UV radiation. She speculated that these bacteria may have a mechanism to repair DNA making them UV resistant. These revolutionary ideas gave birth to the discovery that cells have a mechanism to repair DNA damage, the SOS response.

Witkin’s pioneering research in the DNA-damage response led to her recognition with a 2015 Lasker Award.

Visit iBiology to view seminars, stories, and find advice on science careers. iBiology was founded in 2006 by Lasker laureate Ron Vale.