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Mahlon Hoagland, 2006-06-08

 Item — Box: AV02, miniDV: CSHL1074
Oral History | Mahlon Goagland
Oral History | Mahlon Goagland

Scope and Contents

Mahlon Hoagland, biochemist who discovered transfer RNA (tRNA), is interviewed by Mila Pollock and Jan Witkowski on June 8, 2006, at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, New York.

Mahlon Hoagland's interview discusses the following: LIFE IN SCIENCE: Advice to Young Scientists; On Being an Effective Teacher; Becoming a Scientist; Bernard Davis: Mentor at Harvard Medical School; Sydney Brenner at the Medical Research Council in Cambridge; Working with Francis Crick.

JAMES D. WATSON: Jim Watson: Committee Member on Delegation for Basic Biomedical Research.

CSHL: 1956 Discovery of Transfer RNA; Bridging the Fields of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry; Jim Watson Brings News of Francis Crick’s Adaptor Hypothesis, 1956; Research Highlights: Discovering the Mechanics of Amino Acid Activation; Techniques Employed to Decipher the Genetic Code, 1961; Techniques Used to Determine the Mechanisms of Protein Synthesis; Delegation for Basic Biomedical Research: Successes; Gregory Pincus: Co-Founder of Wooster Foundation for Biomedical Research; Growing Interest in Protein Synthesis and Amino Acid Activation; Paul Zamecnik’s Laboratory: A Biochemical Approach to Understanding Protein Synthesis; Research on the Biological Effects of Beryllium; RNA Research Today; Family Life; Presenting Research at Cold Spring Harbor Symposia.


  • Creation: 2006-06-08


Conditions Governing Access

Portions of this collection have been digitized and are available online: Select tapes have been digitized thanks to support from CLIR Recordings at Risk Grant awarded in 2021, these tapes are available for research online via our Oral History Website and in person at CSHL Archives. Please contact CSHL Archives with any questions regarding availability.

Biographical / Historical

Mahlon Hoagland (October 5, 1921-September 18, 2009) was a molecular biologist who was one of the discoverers of the transfer ribonucleic acid - tRNA. He received a medical degree from Harvard Medical School in 1948. He served as a doctor during the Second World War. When the War ended he returned to Harvard and became a researcher in the Huntington Laboratories at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He worked in the bacteriology and immunology department of Harvard Medical School from 1952 till 1967.

Working together with Paul Zamecnik and Elizabeth Keller he discovered the initial steps of protein synthesis. Two years later in 1958 Hoagland and Zemecnik discovered tRNA. His main input to the laboratory was in his work with amino acid activating enzymes. He noticed that certain enzymes were required to activate amino acids so they could combine with tRNA molecules and eventually be incorporated into new protein molecules. These enzymes were named aminoacyl tRNA synthetases.

In 1957 Hoagland moved to Cambridge where he worked for a year with Crick at Cambridge University. Working together they tried to explain the genetic code. He was Associate Professor of Microbiology at Harvard Medical School and in 1967 was appointed professor in the biochemistry department at the Dartmouth Medical School. After 3 years he left Dartmouth and became Director and President of the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology in Massachusetts. He retired in 1985.

Mahlon Hoagland was awarded the Franklin Medal for life science. He was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the US National Academy of Sciences.

More Information: Wikipedia


1 Cassettes (Camcorder footage) : MiniDV - CSHL1074

1 Optical Disks (Talking science with Mahlon Hoagland) : DVD ; 31 min.

Language of Materials

From the Collection: English


Interview recorded on Mini DV, then transferred to DVD.

Repository Details

Part of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Archives Repository

Library & Archives
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
One Bungtown Rd
Cold Spring Harbor NY 11724 USA