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Understanding cancer (Part 1)


Innovation at Cold Spring Harbor
Renato Dulbecco Scientist
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And I remember that all this happened when I had to go to Cold Spring Harbor, in Long Island, where there were important conferences, there is one every year in the summer, and there was a test that had to be carried out and the result had already been obtained, but there was another test to check that it wasn't an artefact. My colleagues were preparing this, so I said- Okay, I'm going, I'm ready because I have to talk about this- I am ready to report on this, so send me a telegram to let me know the result of this test, if the test works or not. And I remember, I waited and waited and the telegram didn't arrive; then came the time when I had to go onto the podium to speak, I started to speak and I started to explain all this saying that we were still waiting for this test then- at that moment an assistant arrived with the telegram, so I read it and the test was perfect, so there was a huge applause. It arrived just in time. Yes. How long did it take to reach this result in the telegram? Oh, a few years, all in all- because it was a whole series of situations- The importance was also this integration with other groups, because something.- Yes, precisely but this is the great thing. When we- for me, I learned from Levi, it was necessary to have- young people who come must be free, so that they can do their work. Therefore, when one of them came, I started to discuss where we were and I would say- We know this point, then it is necessary to see what we can do to progress- and see what technologies this person had and then see how to integrate this and so things would work well because-

E mi ricordo che tutto questo avveniva quando io dovevo andare a Cold Spring Harbour, a Long Island, dove ci sono delle conferenze di grande valore, tutti gli anni ce n'è una in estate, e c'era un controllo che si doveva fare e il risultato era già ottenuto, ma c'era un controllo per essere sicuro che non fosse un artefatto. I miei collaboratori stavano preparando quello, per cui io ho detto, insomma- Io vado, sono pronto, perché dovevo riferire su questo- Sono pronto a riferire, però mandatemi un telegramma per dire qual è il risultato di questo controllo, se il controllo funziona bene o no. E mi ricordo, aspetta, aspetta e il telegramma non arriva; poi viene il momento in cui devo andare sul podio a parlare, comincio a parlare e comincio a spiegare tutto questo dicendo che c'era ancora questo controllo ancora- in quel momento arriva lì un assistente, porta lì il telegramma, allora lo leggo, il controllo è perfetto, perciò grande applauso. È arrivato al momento giusto. Certo. Quanto tempo ha preso tutto questo per arrivare a questo risultato- diciamo, del telegramma? No, parecchi anni, tutti insieme- perché è tutta una serie di stati- L'importanza è stata anche di questa integrazione con gli altri gruppi, perché qualcosa- Sì, appunto ma quello è il bello. Insomma noi quando- per me, io ho imparato da Levi, bisogna avere- i giovani che vengono devono essere liberati, che possono fare il loro lavoro. Perciò, quando veniva uno di questi, io cominciavo a discutere dove eravamo e dicevo- Conosciamo questo punto, adesso bisogna vedere che cosa si può fare per andare avanti- e vedere quali sono le tecnologie che questa persona aveva e allora vedere come quello si poteva integrare e così è andato benissimo proprio perché-

The Italian biologist Renato Dulbecco (1914-2012) had early success isolating a mutant of the polio virus which was used to create a life-saving vaccine. Later in his career, he initiated the Human Genome Project and was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1975 for furthering our understanding of cancer caused by viruses.

Listeners: Paola De Paoli Marchetti

Paola De Paoli Marchetti is a science journalist who graduated with an honours degree in foreign languages and literature from the University Ca’Foscari, Venice. She has been a science journalist since the 1960s and has been on the staff of the newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore since 1970. She was elected president of UGIS (Italian Association of Science Journalists) in 1984. She has been a Member of the Board of EUSJA (European Union of Science Journalists’ Associations, Strasbourg), and was its president in 1987-1988 and 1998-2000. In May 2000 she was unanimously elected president emeritus. She was a member of the National Council of Italian Journalists (1992-1998). From 2002 to 2004 she was member of the working group for scientific communication of the National Committee for Biotechnology. She has also been a consultant at the Italian Ministry of Research and Technology and editor-in-chief of the publication MRST, policy of science and technology. She has co-authored many publications in the field of scientific information, including Le biotecnologie in Italia, Le piste della ricerca and Luna vent’anni dopo.

Duration: 2 minutes, 13 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008