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Robin Coombs


Harvard with Jim Watson
Avrion Mitchison Scientist
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He came to Edinburgh and looked around and said, this won't do. Come and try Harvard. So I did. And- but I wasn't there for very long. I taught for one semester, a course in embryology there, in the old bio labs, which were no better equipped than the Edinburgh Zoology Department, actually, for my sort of thing. So I slipped over the Charles River to work in Al Coons' lab in the Medical School. Al Coons was another perfect- he was rather- something in common, actually, with George Snell come to think of it, both perfect East Coast gents, without a lot to say, but they could be, in their own way, very encouraging and he was. I was already thrilled by what you could do in the way of injecting proteins into mice, and it didn't really fit with what was going on in his lab, so that didn't work out very well. But more importantly, by that time, I was- I think I was married to- to Lorna, whom you know. She'd been a student in Edinburgh. We got married, and Jim was our best man. And that was all wonderful, and I was very grateful to him. And I was actually living in Harvard in a flat which he and Albert Tissier had- an apartment they'd rented, or a house they borrowed, actually, from somebody in Divinity Road. And Lorna came and looked around and went for a walk along the banks of the Charles River, and she said, this is not for me. So then I decided to come home. And I've never regretted that. Nor have I ever thought, for a moment, that had I stayed in America, the science wouldn't have been- it wouldn't be a wonderful place for science.

Avrion Mitchison, the British zoologist, is currently Professor Emeritus at University College London and is best known for his work demonstrating the role of lymphocytes in tumour rejection and for the separate and cooperative roles of T- and B-lymphocytes in this and other processes.

Listeners: Martin Raff

Martin Raff is a Canadian-born neurologist and research biologist who has made important contributions to immunology and cell development. He has a special interest in apoptosis, the phenomenon of cell death.



Listen to Martin Raff at Web of Stories



Duration: 2 minutes, 9 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008