I grew up in Waverly, Iowa, went to Yale (BS, Biophysics, 1958), Caltech (PhD, Biophysics, 1963), and Stanford for postdoctoral research in the Biochemistry Department. I joined the Biology Department of Brookhaven National Laboratory in 1964, was Chair of Biology 1990-1999, and became Senior Biophysicist Emeritus in 2015. Initially, I studied homogeneous single- and double-stranded DNAs under many different conditions, and then concentrated on molecular genetics and physiology of bacteriophage T7. Proteins and RNAs were identified by SDS polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (developed by Jacob Maizel) and enhanced by a slab-gel apparatus I designed to analyze up to 25 adjacent samples. The entire 39,937 base-pair sequence of T7 DNA and locations of T7 genetic elements were determined in collaboration with John Dunn. T7 RNA polymerase is highly selective for its own promoters, not found in E. coli, and makes complete RNA from almost any DNA about five time faster than E. coli RNA polymerase. This allowed development of the T7 expression system, which produces almost any protein from a multicopy vector. Auto-inducing media provide efficient growth to saturation, so many different proteins can easily be grown in parallel. A later interest compared sequenced E. coli genomes for insights into bacterial evolution.

Research Interests

My research focuses on the molecular genetics of bacteriophage T7, control of gene expression, conformations and interactions of DNA, and large-scale DNA sequencing.

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Section 26: Genetics