Walter Gilbert


Interview, March 2009

Interview with the 1980 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, Walter Gilbert, 22 March 2009. The interviewer is Adam Smith, Editor-in-Chief of

Walter Gilbert discusses his current ‘serious vocation’, photography, and its similarities to his previous work in science (4:12), growing up in an intellectual family and his truancy in high school prior to matriculating to Harvard (6:56), his doctorate in mathematics from Cambridge and meeting Jim Watson (10:32), and the lab visit and six papers that led him to switch from theoretical physics to molecular biology (13:53). He then discusses his ‘impossible’ research in the field (24:08), the chemical DNA sequencing process for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize (34:18), why this wasn’t patented (43:57), his transition to industry (51:24), his subsequent involvement in a number of biotech companies and the venture capital firm BioVentures (57:17), his role as Chairman of the Harvard Society of Fellows (1:15:09), and the advice he has for other scientists (1:23:16).

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