Frank A. Laski
The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
Frank A. Laski was born in Detroit, Michigan; he grew up in Oak Park, a suburb of Detroit until about high-school age, when his family moved to Southfield, another suburb. His father's parents and sisters perished in a concentration camp in WWII; his mother's family in Berlin obtained false papers to survive the war. Laski's father and uncle survived the concentration camp and were sent to Louisville, where Laski's father met and married Eva Marx, who also had moved to Louisville after the war. Laski's parents and his uncle moved to Detroit, where they established a prosperous heating business. Laski has one older brother and a younger sister. He had a happy childhood and liked school. He attended a summer camp each year from an early age and eventually worked at the camp. He discovered in high school that he liked science. He attended the University of Michigan, where he obtained a BS in general studies, a major that allowed him to concentrate on science; he worked in Ethel Noland Jackson's lab as an undergraduate. He became very excited about recombinant DNA and knew that his future lay with genetics. Laski entered Massachusetts Institute of Technology for his PhD He worked there in Phillip A. Sharp's lab, where he learned to clone adenovirus; spliced introns; and eventually passed his oral exams. After receiving his PhD he took a postdoc in Gerald M. Rubin's lab at the University of California at Berkeley, working on the relationship between P elements and germline tissue. He then accepted an assistant professorship at the Department of Biology and at the Molecular Biology Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles, where he remains today. His work encompasses bacteriophage packaging; transfer RNA; Drosophila ovaries; P elements; oogenesis; and genetic mutations in Drosophila.
|1977||University of Michigan||BGS|
|1983||Massachusetts Institute of Technology||PhD|
University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Los Angeles
Postdoctoral Fellowship, National Institutes of Health
|1984 to 1987||
Exxon Education Foundation Fellow of the Life Sciences
|1988 to 1993||
National Institutes of Health Grant
Career Development Award, Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of California, Los Angeles
|1993 to 1997||
National Institutes of Health Grant
|1990 to 1992||
Basil O'Connor Starter Scholar Research Award Fellow of the
|1990 to 1994||
Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences
Table of Contents
Born and grows up in suburb of Detroit, Michigan to parents who were survivors of Holocaust. One older brother, one younger sister. Father establishes his own business with Laski's uncle. After father's death, mother remarried Arnold Shay. Good public school education. Camp important during summers. Likes school;does well without trying until high school, when he buckles down.
Attends University of Michigan, majoring in general studies. Spends spare time with friends from camp; loves Ann Arbor. Takes biology and loves it, particularly genetics. Likes factual work. Hears debate between Jonathan King and David Baltimore about the ethics of recombinant DNA. Takes a course on recombinant DNA. Majors in general studies to concentrate on science. Works in the Ethel Noland Jackson lab on bacteriophage P22 morphogenesis. Learns transduction procedures.
Enters graduate school at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The MIT Program. Desire to switch to eukaryotic research. Works in the Phillip A. Sharp lab learning to clone adenovirus. Splicing introns. Passing oral examinations. Social life.
Debate over the potential hazards of working with recombinant DNA. How graduate students at MIT accepted to work in a lab. Learning to write scientific papers. Balancing the need for lab's productivity against graduate students' needs to complete their projects. Role of transfer RNA (tRNA) in translating nucleic acids into proteins. Stop codons and nonsense mutations. Necessity of producing nonlethal mutations. Use of nonsense-suppressing tRNA to create conditional-lethal mutations. Trying to mutate the anti-codon of a Xenopus tRNA gene.
Takes postdoc with Gerald M. Rubin at the University of California at Berkeley to work on P elements. Rubin's lab management. Studies relationship between P elements and germline tissue--Roger E. Karess's work on P element transposase--Hypothesis that splicing of messenger RNA occurs only in germline tissue. Germline splicing regulation.
Studying formation of the ovary in Drosophila--Maintaining the fly stock—The spread of P elements in wild fruit flies--Interest in germarium; how protein localization causes intracellular differentiation; homebox genes. Discovers the bric-á-brac gene; defects in bric-á-brac cause homeotic mutation in the fly. Further research on bric-á-brac. Competition and collaboration in Laski'spresent research--Getting articles accepted for publication. Plans to stay with Drosophila system--What Laski most likes and dislikes about being a principal investigator.