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Oral History
Robert L. Sinsheimer Oral History Interview with Shelley Erwin [sound recording]

Interview in 1990 and 1991 with Dr. Robert L. Sinsheimer, who served as chairman of Caltech's Division of Biology for nine years (1968-1977) and later became chancellor of the University of California at Santa Cruz. He recalls his undergraduate education in the new biophysics program at MIT, his war work at MIT's Radiation Laboratory, and his graduate study at MIT in biophysics (PhD 1948). After a postdoc year there, he goes to Iowa State College as associate professor of biophysics; takes six-month leave in 1953 to Caltech, works on phage genetics with Max Delbrück. Joins Caltech faculty as professor of biophysics in 1957 and continues his work on isolating the virus Phi X 174; work with Arthur Kornberg of Stanford on in vitro synthesis of DNA. Receives California Scientist of the Year Award in 1968 and is elected that year to the National Academy of Sciences. He recalls his tenure as chair of the Biology Division, the growth of molecular biology, and his awareness of potential risks involved in the new technology of recombinant DNA. He discusses his concern over low level of public understanding of science; his involvement in the Asilomar Conference of February 1975 and creation of NIH guidelines for recombinant DNA research; and his part in initiating the Human Genome Project. In 1977, Sinsheimer left Caltech to become chancellor of UC Santa Cruz, a post he held until 1987, when he moved to UC Santa Barbara, where he became professor emeritus in 1990 and where this interview takes place.

ID: 1991-00166
Sinsheimer, Robert Louis (Biophysicist)

Creation May. 30, 1990 through Mar. 26, 1991

MEDIUM: Sound recording; FORMAT: Sound cassette: analog; QUANTITY: 1 set (6 cassettes per set)

Topics: Biology

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