Howard Temin (1981) - The Evolution of Retroviruses

Howard Temin (1981)

The Evolution of Retroviruses

Howard Temin (1981)

The Evolution of Retroviruses

Comment

Some of the Lindau meetings are remembered because of special jubilees. This was, e.g., the case for the 40th meeting in 1990. Then Count Lennart Bernadotte gave a remarkable open-minded personal history of the meetings. In particular he then described how the meetings were transformed from meetings for specialists to meetings mainly for young researchers and students. But the medicine meeting of 1981 must also be remembered, although for a quite different reason. It was a meeting gathering almost 30 Nobel Laureates, among them, for the first time, two of the inventors of genetical engineering, Werner Arber and Hamilton Smith, and, also for the first time, two of the practitioners of the technique, used in attempts to understand cancer, Renato Dulbecco and Howard Temin. As if this was not enough, the two scientists who unravelled the structure of genes, Francis Crick and James Watson, was also there, as was one of their strong competitors, Linus Pauling. If a time machine was available and if it could only be used for one return journey, the Lindau meeting of 1981 would be a good choice. Science fiction aside, through the tape recordings of the lectures, we at least get a glimpse of the kind of subjects that probably were up for discussion at the two closed sessions where only “Nobel Laureates, assistants and students” were allowed to participate. Howard Temin only came to the Lindau meetings twice before he passed away, only about 60 years old. As a student of Renato Dulbecco, his lecture is quite different from that of his 20 year older teacher. Temin seems to have mastered the techniques of genetic engineering and during his lecture he treats the building blocks of DNA with the same brilliance as a professional juggler. With my own background as a theoretical physicist, I cannot judge to what extent young researchers (“assistants”) and students of 1981 were able to follow his show! Anders Bárány

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