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Getting funding and moving to a new laboratory


Work on polycystic kidney disease
David Weatherall Scientist
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We had another interesting experience at about that time, was this chap Steve Reeders who was going to find the gene for polycystic disease, and we had that... very few markers really, but by that time the alpha gene grew, done, got a lot more structural data on the alpha globin genes and I found these hypervariable regions and we had an excellent student at the time, Steve Goodbourn whose... whose PhD was to characterise these regions. I remember when he finished he came into my office one morning, great strip of paper, and said, 'There’s me thesis'. You know, I think he was getting a bit fed up by then. But he was on the next bench to the Reeders, and they were talking about this hypervariable region next to the alpha globin gene, so Steve had these Boston families with polycystic kidney disease, so he plugged them in, and there it was, it was very tight linkage. And at that stage it was difficult to keep good people, within I think a few weeks of that Nature paper, he’d been offered an Assistant Professorship at Yale, and the swine left. But fortunately, bloke who was helping him was not put off. In fact, we were told to stop working on it, by the MRC [Medical Research Council], but we went on, and as you know, they found this interesting patient from Cardiff, who had the nice deletion.

[Q] Originally from Portugal.

Originally from Portugal, that’s right. And so... so that was a really a bit of serendipity, and the nice thing of having people kind of working on different projects on the next bench.

British Scientist Sir David Weatherall (1933-2018) was a world renowned expert on blood diseases, in particular thalassaemias, and used his expertise to help control and prevent these diseases in developing countries. He founded the Institute of Molecular Medicine at Oxford in 1989 and was knighted in 1987.

Listeners: Marcus Pembrey

Marcus Pembrey, now Emeritus, was Professor of Paediatric Genetics at the Institute of Child Health, University College London and consultant clinical geneticist at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children London. He is a visiting Professor at the University of Bristol UK, where he was the Director of Genetics within the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children until 2006. A past president of the European Society of Human Genetics, he is also the founding Chairman of the Progress Educational Trust.

Duration: 1 minute, 57 seconds

Date story recorded: July 2007

Date story went live: 02 June 2008