Public Release: 

Oral history of genetics now available online

Conversations in Genetics continues to grow

Genetics Society of America

BETHESDA, MD - The Genetics Society of America (GSA) and Executive Producer Rochelle Easton Esposito, PhD, are pleased to announce that Conversations in Genetics, an oral history of our intellectual heritage in genetics, is now available for free online viewing at

Conversations in Genetics offers in depth video interviews of prominent geneticists who made seminal contributions to the field, conducted by prominent research colleagues. These interviews serve to preserve the history of the field for future generations, enrich the education of scholars of genetics on how important concepts originated, and promote full integration and use of our historical heritage to advance current work. The videos were previously only available as DVDs.

"The Conversations in Genetics project provides a unique opportunity to learn about the development of critical ideas and insights in modern genetics by speaking directly with the scientific pioneers who originated them," said Esposito, a former GSA president who initiated the project in 1997 and has continued to serve as Executive Producer and Scientific Editor. (See "Conversation in Genetics," The Scientist, for additional background.)

The following interviews are currently available online:

Volume 1

  • Leland Hartwell, by Rochelle Esposito, "Cell Cycle Control in Yeast"
  • Francois Jacob, by Lucille Shapiro, "The Central Dogma Gene Regulation"
  • Edward Lewis, by Elliot Meyerowitz, "Drosophila Development"
  • Arno Motulsky, by Mary-Claire King, "Human Disease Pharmacogenetics"
  • Evelyn Witkin, by Carol Gross, "DNA Repair"

Volume 2

  • Seymour Benzer, by David Anderson, "Gene Structure; Behavioral Genetics"
  • James Crow, by Daniel Hartl, "Mutation, Selection, Genetic Drift"
  • Ira Herskowitz, by Jasper Rine, "Lambda and Yeast Gene Regulation"
  • Daniel Lindsley, by Scott Hawley, "Chromosome Mechanics"
  • Janet Rowley, by Alfred Knudson, "Cancer Genetics"

Volume 3

  • Elizabeth Blackburn, by Joseph Gall, "Telomeres, Cancer, Aging"
  • Sydney Brenner, by Barbara Meyer, "Genetic Code; Worm Development"
  • Victor McKusick, by Judith Hall, "Human Genetics"
  • Ray Owen, by James Crow, "Stem Cells, Immunogenetics"
  • Charles Yanofsky, by David Botstein, "Colinearity, Suppression"

Volume 4

  • Paul Berg, by Charles Yanofsky, "RNA/Protein Synthesis; Recombinant DNA"
  • Walter Gehring, by Debra Wolgemuth, "Homeobox and Eye Development"
  • Dale Kaiser, by Ronald Davis, "Lambda and Myxococcus Development"
  • Piotr Slonimski, by Giuseppi Attardi, "Mitochondrial Genetics"

Several additional conversations are currently in production:

  • Luca Cavalli-Sforza, interviewed by Marc Feldman
  • Norman Horowitz, interviewed by Ray Owen
  • Mary-Claire King, interviewed by Evan Eichler
  • Elliot Meyerowitz, interviewed by Daphne Preuss

The GSA provided financial support for the project for its first ten years, with additional contributions from the American Society of Human Genetics. The project is presently supported independently by private donations.

Online streaming of the videos has been provided by Dean Flanders of the Friedrich Miescher Institute and Swiss National Grid Association (SwiNG), Basel, Switzerland.

Tax-deductible donations may be made to GSA or SwiNG to support continuation of the project; see for additional information.


About the Genetics Society of America (GSA)

Founded in 1931, the Genetics Society of America (GSA) is the professional scientific society for genetics researchers and educators. The Society's more than 5,000 members worldwide work to deepen our understanding of the living world by advancing the field of genetics, from the molecular to the population level. GSA promotes research and fosters communication through a number of GSA-sponsored conferences including regular meetings that focus on particular model organisms. GSA publishes two peer-reviewed, peer-edited scholarly journals: GENETICS, which has published high quality original research across the breadth of the field since 1916, and G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics, an open-access journal launched in 2011 to disseminate high quality foundational research in genetics and genomics. The Society also has a deep commitment to education and fostering the next generation of scholars in the field. For more information about GSA, please visit

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