Alexander Rich, 2006-08-20
Scope and Contents
The Oral History Collection contains interviews conducted with 200 scientists within the fields of molecular biology, genetics, and the life sciences between 1990 and 2018. The interviewees provide first-hand accounts of their experiences in the fields of modern biology, such as neuroscience, cancer, genetics, plant genetics, genomics, biotechnology and others, from the 1940s through the 2000s. The collection contains audio and video recordings, as well as transcripts of interviews.
The interviews offer a glimpse into the life of prominent scientists. The interviews discuss scientists' early school days and beginning interests in science to what or who made them choose to go into science. They also include reminiscences about their research and major discoveries, experiences of women in science, the character and life of leading scientists like Barbara McClintock and James D. Watson, the history of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the nature of the double-helix discovery, the ethics of the Human Genome Project and biotechnology.
Many scientists interviewed for this project have either carried out their research or attended scientific meetings at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Their recollections document not only the history of molecular biology and genetics the but also the laboratory's role in this history. The collection comprises of Hi8 8mm tapes; mini-DV; DVCAM and VHS audio cassette tapes. Most of the interviews from this collection have been transcribed. Interviews which have been digitized can be found at the Oral History Collection page.
The collection is organized into two series: Talking Science Interviews and Presentations. Talking Science Interviews consist of individual scientists, while the Presentations series include clips of oral history interviews that were used for a specific meeting or event.
- Talking Science Interviews, 1990-2017
- Presentations, 2016-2019
- Creation: 2006-08-20
- Rich, Alexander (Interviewee, Person)
- Pollock, Ludmila (Interviewer, Person)
- Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Library and Archives (Publisher, Organization)
Conditions Governing Access
Portions of this collection have been digitized and are available online: https://library.cshl.edu/oralhistory/. 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 email@example.com with any questions regarding availability.
Biographical / Historical
Alexander Rich (1924-2015) was a biologist and biophysicist. He was the William Thompson Sedgwick Professor of Biophysics and Biochemistry, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Biology. Rich first joined the MIT faculty in 1958. Subsequent to serving in the U.S. Navy from 1943-1946, Rich earned his undergraduate degree (A.B., magna cum laude, 1947) and medical degree (M.D., cum laude, 1949) from Harvard University. While doing his postdoctoral work at Caltech under Linus Pauling, Rich met Jim Watson and they began their collaboration on the structure of RNA. From 1969-1980 he was an investigator in NASA's Viking Mission to Mars, the project which designed experiments to determine if there is life on Mars.
Alex Rich's most well-known scientific discoveries are left-handed DNA, or Z-DNA, and the three-dimensional structure of transfer RNA. He has been elected to the the National Academy of Sciences (1970), the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, the French Academy of Sciences, the Russian Academy of Sciences, and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (the Vatican.) Among other awards and honorary degrees he received are the Medal of Science granted by President Clinton in 1995, the Rosentiel Award in Basic Biomedical Research, and the Presidential Award of the New York Academy of Sciences.
Since the 1980s Alex Rich has been actively involved in number of companies in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. He co-founded the pharmaceutical company Alkermes Inc. in 1987 and currently serves as a director. He was also Co-Chairman of the Board of Directors of Repligen Corporation, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of Roseta Genomics, and a member of the Board of Directors for Profectus Biosciences, Inc.
2 Cassettes (Camcorder footage) : MiniDV - CSHL1136, CSHL1137
Language of Materials
From the Collection: English
Alexander Rich discusses the following in his interview:
LIFE IN SCIENCE:
At Caltech with Linus Pauling.
JAMES D. WATSON: Working on RNA Structure with Jim Watson; A Conversation With Francis Crick: The NATURE paper.
CSHL: Julian Huxley Comments on the Discovery of Nucleic Acid Hybridization; Left-Handed DNA; RNA and the Discovery of Nucleic Acid Hybridization; Single-Crystal Diffraction; At The Medical Research Council; Building A Research Team at NIH.