Jan A. Witkowski

Jan A. Witkowski

SBS Professor

Ph.D., University of London, 1972

witkowsk@cshl.edu | (516) 367-8398


My BSc is in zoology from the University of Southampton, UK. However, a new professor, Leslie Brent who worked with Peter Medawar, modernized the curriculum and I took topics in cell and developmental biology, and immunology. I did my Ph.D. in biochemistry at the University of London and moved to the Royal Postgraduate Medical School where I carried out research on Duchenne muscular dystrophy. I subsequently worked on oncogenes at Imperial Cancer Research Fund, London, and ran a DNA diagnostics laboratory at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston.

In 1987, I moved to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to direct the Banbury Center, the small conference center at CSHL. I organized meetings covering the breadth of modern experimental biology as well as societal issues arising from such research. By the time I stepped down in 2017, I had organized over 600 meetings attended by over 12,000 participants. I now work on projects for Bruce Stillman, CSHL President.

I have written and edited 14 books. These include the textbook Recombinant DNA, coauthored with Jim Watson. I was co-editor with Alex Gann of The Annotated and Illustrated Double Helix, a new edition of Watson’s classic book. My most recent book is The Road to Discovery: A Short History of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. I have a longstanding interest in the history of science, publishing many papers on the history of genetics, cell biology and developmental biology.