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Ronald Plasterk, 2004-06-07

 Item — Multiple Containers

Scope and Contents

Ronald Plasterk, molecular geneticist, is interviewed by Mila Pollock on June 7, 2004 at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, in Cold Spring Harbor, New York.

Ronald Plasterk discusses the following in his interview: Scene 1. Scientific career -- Scene 2. Becoming a scientist -- Scene 3. Interest in genetics research -- Scene 4. C. elegans and zebrafish genomics -- Scene 5. From California to Cambridge: working with John Sulston -- Scene 6. John Sulston, from cell lineages to human sequences -- Scene 7. John Sulston, management style -- Scene 8. Sydney Brenner, Director of the Laboratory of Molecula Biology -- Scene 9. The beginnings of the Human Genome Project -- Scene 10. John Sulston and Jim Watson: efforts to make the genome sequence public -- Scene 11. Administrative and scientific role model -- Scene 12. Zebrafish: a model organism for vertebrate development -- Scene 13. Zebrafish knockout genes -- Scene 14. The future of zebrafish genomics -- Scene 15. Dangers of genomic research -- Scene 16. Growing interest in RNA -- Scene 17. Transposon silencing and RNA interference -- Scene 18. RNA interference: a genome's "immune system" -- Scene 19. Stages of scientific inquiry -- Scene 20. Future career moves -- Scene 21. Advice to young scientists -- Scene 22. Small interfering RNAs -- Scene 23. RNAi applications -- Scene 24. Future of RNAi -- Scene 25. Surprises in genomics: the promise of discovery -- Scene 26. Competition in science -- Scene 27. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory arrival: phage meeting -- Scene 28. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory: C. elegans course -- Scene 29. Teaching at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory -- Scene 30. Winship Herr, Dean, Watson School of Biological Sciences -- Scene 31. Jim Watson, first impressions -- Scene 32. Ira Herskowitz -- Scene 33. 2004 Cold Spring Harbor Symposia on Epigenetics: final remarks -- Scene 34. Advice for presenting scientific information -- Scene 35. Scientific aspiration -- Scene 26. Scientific wishes and ambitions.


  • Creation: 2004-06-07


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

Ronald Plasterk, is a retired Dutch politician of the Labour Party and successful scientist and molecular genetics. He studied biology at the Leiden University and economics at the University of Amsterdam. In 1981 he received the Dutch doctorandus degree in biology. In 1984 he earned a doctorate in mathematics and natural sciences from the University of Leiden, working extensively with transposable elements.

After receiving his Ph.D. he moved to California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and worked as a post-doc (1985-1986) on the transposon sequences in DNA in the parasite Borrelia hermsii. Plasterk was also a post-doc at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge (1986-1987) where he studied Caenorhabditis elegans, a nematode that is used as a model organism. His major area of research include genetics and functional genomics.

He came back to the Netherlands in 1987 and became a group leader and member of the board of the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam. Between 1989 and 2000 he was director of the research school of oncology at the institute. From 1997 till 2000 he was professor of molecular genetics at the University of Amsterdam. In 2000 was appointed director of the Netherlands Institute for Developmental Biology (Hubrecht Laboratory) and at the same time was a professor in developmental genetics at Utrecht University.

In February 2007 Ronald Plasterek was appointed minister of Education, Culture and Science in the fourth Balkenende government and he decided to end his scientific career. He held this position until February 2010. He was a member of the House of Representatives and Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

In December 2017 Plasterk was named as Chief scientific officer (CSO) for myTomorrows. Since 2018, Plasterk is a professor of Novel Strategies to Access to Therapeutics at the University of Amsterdam. Additionally in 2018, Plasterk founded the company Frame Therapeutics, which specializes in cancer treatment vaccines.

Ronald Plasterk has participated in many courses, meetings and symposia at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, attending his first phage meeting in the mid 80’s as he recalls it.

More Information: Wikipedia


2 Cassettes (Camcorder footage) : MiniDV - CSHL1132, CSHL1133

1 Optical Disks (Talking science with Ronald Plasterk) : DVD ; 55 min.

Language of Materials

From the Collection: English