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Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Double Helix Medal Dinner Video, 2016

November 13, 2019


Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory was founded
in 1990 in an interesting time it was founded on land that used to be a
whaling village the big thing of the nineteenth century were Darwin’s ideas
and then the beginnings of teaching them through marine biology labs soon thereafter in 1900
when Mendel’s laws of genetics were rediscovered a laboratory took a major
turn to become the first institution to focus solely on genetics and this
led the direction for the next 125 years I think there’s the fond spot for almost
everybody in biology certainly molecular biology for the lab the modern molecular
biology developed at Cold Spring Harbor people have had the most enjoyable
thought experiments walking the grounds here when you walk around the campus visit scientists in
their different labs you can feel that spirit of enthusiasm, inspiration,
excitement and an eagerness to share knowledge Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory has
made a major effort to start a new cancer therapeutics initiative that
enables our scientists to take the research that they’re doing far beyond
what they would have normally done in the past and this is also being
facilitated by an extraordinary relationship with the largest healthcare
system on the east coast Northwell Health this affiliation allows Cold
Spring Harbor science to be discussed with clinical oncologists in the Health
System with the explicit intent of coming up with new treatments for cancer
patients or new diagnostic approaches for cancer patients including early
detection because of the dynamic nature of the faculty at Cold Spring Harbor
Laboratory we’re constantly recruiting very bright young scientists one of
those newest young scientists is Dr. Camila dos Santos we know for over 50
years now that an early age of pregnancy decreases the risk of breast cancer by
30 to 40 percent and that includes all subtypes of breast cancer so we are
trying to look for factors present in cells after pregnancy that decrease the
chance of cells should turn into cancerous cells as a cancer survivor myself I
really appreciate the opportunity to talk to scientists about cancer related genes
my ambition is to find new ways, new drugs, new therapeutic strategies that women can
take at any age and decrease their risk of developing breast cancer one of the great
examples of how a scientist can pick up on a completely new direction is Dr. Mike Wigler
Mike Wigler has had a really transformative effect on the
understanding of the genetics of diseases that aren’t simple most of all
autism up until then pretty much people were looking at inherited mutations and
Mike suggested going the de novo route and that has opened up a whole new way of
looking at the autism incidents there’s a lot of
disease that’s caused by new mutation the kid has some disorder or disability
that is not in either parent there’s no history in the family and these children
were not being studied even though this was clearly a very rich area of genetics he
believed that would be a meaningful cause of autism and he turned out to be
right on right on the button there’s really no other place that I know of
that has this combination of fantastic scientists on the campus but also this
convening ability to bring other groups here for some of the best meetings that
occur anywhere in the world Cold Spring Harbor is sort of placed
themself in the center of both great science and great education the broader
educational programs at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory including our Meetings
and Courses and Banbury program have a very big impact on science most important part of Cold Spring Harbor
education is of scientists educating each other in effective ways the way to
really make progress is to get lots of smart people to focus on the same issues
and Cold Spring Harbor does all of that is also the center
for almost all of the top meetings throughout biology so you can stay in
one place and the world of biology comes to you so-to-speak right now we’re the guardians
of this institution and we want to build it we want to help it continue in the
future it’s made so much of a contribution the
last hundred and 25 years of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory has really been the
development and evolution of this extraordinary institution for the next
hundred and twenty-five years and beyond what I think we really need to do is to
become the center where the brightest minds and the best scientists in the
world can come to work in a unique culture and we can provide the resources
to enable them to do that science Cold Spring Harbor is an environment where
you can go and have a walk with a couple of other scientists and hear things that
you would never hear anywhere else and it would change your life.

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