Johns Hopkins Magazine - June 1995 Issue

The Science of Collaboration

By Elise Hancock

In thinking about LINUS, do not restrict your vision to the two brilliant guys in a lab. Think of the many thousands of researchers whose work with genes, proteins, and supporting technology, over a period of decades all over the world, has made Rose's triumph possible. And think of NIH, funding this work since 1979, even though, says Rose, "particularly in the early days, it was felt that the protein folding problem was too hard, and that funding work on it was a waste of money."

Rose came to Hopkins last fall from Penn State's University Medical Center, by way of a couple of other universities where he just didn't feel at home. On occasion he felt isolated, like a "token biophysicist." At Hopkins he's at home already, and he says the difference is colleagues. At other places, he said after his March 29 presentation, "people would have said, 'Thanks for the talk, George.' Here... (eyes shining) if I ever had any doubts about coming here, they're gone now."

When he talks proteins with Ed Lattman, his good friend since 1979, they sound exactly like Click and Clack, the Tappet brothers on public radio's "Car Talk." (Rose says, "That's because we're both irreverent wiseasses.") Their minds rest easy together. They josh and play off each other's jokes, yet never lose their train of thought. (The two co-authored a paper seminal to LINUS in 1993.) Rose says that "it makes a big difference having Ed Lattman in the same place," just one floor away.

Rose's lab, too, is very close-knit. "We talk incessantly, that's the way the lab runs." Rose assigned each postdoc a different but complementary approach to the folding problem, and each one inspires the others - - including Rose himself, who credits ideas and suggestions from postdocs Rajeev Aurora and Trevor Creamer.

Rose and Srinivasan have also benefited by being members of Hopkins's Institute for Macromolecular Assemblies, a sort of institute without walls that brings together macromolecular researchers from wherever they may be at Hopkins. Rose says, "Its very existence means there's a critical mass of world-class biophysicists at Johns Hopkins - - I mean greater metropolitan Hopkins, from East Baltimore to Homewood."

Send EMail to Johns Hopkins Magazine

Return to table of contents.