Newsstand Menu

CSHL celebrates 50th anniversary of McClintock Laboratory

image of McClintock building dedication 50th anniversary with faculty and staff
CSHL faculty and staff working in the McClintock Laboratory gathered outside the historic building to mark the 50-year anniversary of its renaming.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Barbara McClintock’s career at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) revolutionized genetics research. At CSHL’s “Animal House,” her groundbreaking experiments with corn led to the discovery of transposons, or “jumping genes” in 1944. Fifty years ago, at its 1973 Symposium, CSHL renamed the building in McClintock’s honor. Ten years later, in 1983, Barbara McClintock became the first woman to earn an unshared Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Photo of Barbara McClintock at McClintock Building renaming
Nobel laureate Barbara McClintock at the 1973 CSHL Symposium on Chromosome Structure & Function. It was at this event that the ‘Animal House’ was renamed in her honor. Courtesy of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Archives, NY.

It’s now known that transposons are widespread in plant and animal genomes. But this wasn’t always scientific consensus—far from it, in fact. When McClintock presented her research to the public in 1951, much of the science community dismissed it outright. “They said I was crazy—absolutely mad,” McClintock once recalled. “When you know you are right, you don’t care.” Later discoveries of transposons in fruit flies and yeast set the record straight. By the time she took a step back from active research in 1967, McClintock’s discoveries had gained broad acceptance.

Today, the McClintock Laboratory houses CSHL’s Amor Vegas, dos Santos, and Westcott labs. It is also home to Adjunct Associate Professor Sepideh Gholami. These four cancer researchers take on the disease from a variety of angles.

CSHL Fellow Corina Amor Vegas studies cellular senescence—when cells stop dividing but don’t die. Associate Professor Camila dos Santos researches how pregnancy affects breast cancer risk. Assistant Professor Peter Westcott focuses on how the immune system shapes tumor growth. Sepideh Gholami works to improve clinical trials and therapies for colorectal and liver cancer.

The Carnegie Institute of Washington, a predecessor of CSHL, built the “Animal House” in 1914. It is one of CSHL’s oldest buildings, a National Historic Landmark, and a beacon of inspiration for scientists both here in New York and all around the world.

Written by: Nick Wurm, Communications Specialist | | 516-367-5940

Stay informed

Sign up for our newsletter to get the latest discoveries, upcoming events, videos, podcasts, and a news roundup delivered straight to your inbox every month.

  Newsletter Signup