The interesting story of the development of Robert M. Bock laboratories and the UW-Madison molecular biology program is detailed in an article in the journal Biology of the Cell, written by by Harlan Halvorson, former faculty member in the Department of Bacteriology who is now director of the Policy Center for Marine BioSciences and Technology at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. The account describes the roles played by Nobel Laureate Joshua Lederberg, UW president Conrad Elvejem, and other faculty members including John Bowers, James Crow, Robert Burris, P.P. Cohen, Hans Ris, Henry Lardy, and Halvorson himself.
“Dramatic changes in the foundation of academic departments in our universities are uncommon.” the article begins. “With the demonstration that DNA was the cellular source of genetic information, and that this information could be regulated, the field of molecular biology was born. Later, when scientists found that they could tinker with this information, the field matured. In an unusually rapid manner, molecular biology was integrated into the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in the late 1950s and early 1960s. This present article is a chronology of how it happened. What are the factors that made this transition possible in the University of Wisconsin? What lessons have we learned from this experience.”
To download a reprint of the article, click here.