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Nobel coming


Difficulties in England
Renato Dulbecco Scientist
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Therefore, then, as I said, at a certain point, specifically as a result of the birth of our daughter, we decided to go to London and in London my workload was much more reduced, precisely for the reasons that I already explained, on account of needing to be there for my daughter, trying to help her and also for other reasons... the difficulties that there were... England is a very strange country, there are extremely interesting things, but there are also difficulties that do not exist in the United States, for example. Difficulties related to social structure, for instance, where each individual has a certain function on a ladder, he absolutely wants to make his mark. For example, there was also an operations director in the institute where I was working and this operations director naturally had responsibility for all the staff, except the scientists' staff, and he was very difficult to get on with because he wanted things done in a particular way and there was no compromise, you couldn't reason with him, it was his way or the highway. He wasn't flexible. He wasn't pleasant, he was unpleasant. On the other hand, I was saying... therefore we continued for a while to complete this work on virus genes, particularly polio and also SV 40. I had a much smaller group than the one I had at Caltech or at Salk.

[Q] But the collaborators that you had there, the group of researchers that you had there, you gathered them at that time or they came...

No, some came with me who were already at Salk, two or three, and then some others came here, but there were five or six people, it wasn't a large group, but in fact it worked well. As I was saying, we continued to complete some points of the virus work and the action of the virus and I also started to be more interested in more highly complex organisms, for example, cells, because a cell has a much greater complexity than that of a virus and the number of genes that it contains, etc. So starting to try to understand, to grasp how it was possible to penetrate this cell complexity. So, at the start, these were not particularly interesting things, but they were useful for forming an idea about them.

Dunque, allora, come ho detto, a un certo punto, appunto per la questione della nascita di nostra figlia, abbiamo deciso di andare a Londra e a Londra il lavoro è stato molto, molto più ridotto, appunto, per le ragioni che già spiegavo, per la necessità di essere vicini a questa ragazza, cercare di aiutarla e anche per altre ragioni, insomma le difficoltà che ci sono... l'Inghilterra è un paese molto strano, ci sono cose estremamente interessanti, ma anche ci sono difficoltà che, per esempio, negli Stati Uniti non esistono. Sono le difficoltà dell'organizzazione sociale, diciamo così, dove ogni individuo che ha una certa funzione in una scala, vuole assolutamente lasciare la sua impronta... perciò, per esempio, nell'istituto lì dov'ero io, c'era anche un direttore dei servizi e questo direttore dei servizi naturalmente aveva la responsabilità per tutto il personale, eccetto il personale degli scienziati, e insomma era difficilissimo andare d'accordo con lui, perché lui voleva le cose fatte in un certo modo e non c'era niente a che fare, non si poteva ragionare, capisci, è fatto così o niente. Non era flessibile. Non era piacevole, è stato piuttosto spiacevole. D'altra parte... no, dicevo, perciò lì abbiamo continuato per un po' di tempo a perfezionare questo lavoro sopra i geni del- virus, specialmente del polioma e anche dell'SV 40. Avevo un gruppo molto più piccolo di quello che avessi... naturalmente al Caltech o al Salk.

[Q] Ma i collaboratori che avevi lì, il gruppo di ricercatori che avevi lì, venivano... li hai raccolti in quel momento oppure venivano...

No, alcuni sono venuti con me che erano già al Salk, sono due o tre e poi alcuni altri son venuti qui, ma c'era cinque o sei persone, non era un gran gruppo, ma insomma si lavorava abbastanza. Come dicevo, si è continuato a perfezionare alcuni punti del virus e dell'azione del virus e anche avevo cominciato a interessarmi di più a organismi di complessità più elevata, per esempio, cellule, perché una cellula ha una complessità enormemente maggiore a quella del virus e il numero dei geni che contiene, ecc. Insomma, cominciando a cercare di capire, di afferrare come si potesse penetrare in questa complessità della cellula. Perciò, al principio, erano cose non molto interessanti, insomma, erano utili per formare un'idea di queste cose.

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.

Tags: England, Salk Institute

Duration: 3 minutes, 19 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008