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【转帖】英国剑桥分子生物实验室何以成功

作者:   分类:研究经验与心得   Tags:诺贝尔   浏览:5747次   回复:1次  
发表时间:2013-01-09 09:16:16

【转帖前言】政府采取了越来越多的政策措施,来调动科学家从事创新工作。然而,很多的政策措施都是折腾科学家。转帖一个。经验不能照搬,来个山寨版的如何?

 

盛产诺贝尔奖得主的文化:自由思想x平等讨论x协作共享x钱

 

【译者按:共花了三天、八个多小时翻译,主要在下午及晚上。现代汉语词典及牛津英语词典伴我左右,但不太敢用网上中文译法,遇到生词或词组,也乐于核查,不敢依赖模糊的记忆力来作模糊的翻译。译完后出声朗读一篇,看是否有不通顺的地方。我专业在法律与教育,生物化学只有中学程度,恳请专业人士指点专业知识及术语译法。随后会作出修改。译者用心加上读者专业细心,译文会趋于完善。】

July 08, 2011

作者:雷维纳(Vivienne Raper)  2011年七月八日 

\"There\'s a tradition of trying to hire smart people and then basically leaving them to it.\" -- MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology group leader Leo James.

 “这儿有种传统:竭力雇来聪明人,随后基本放手让他们自己做。”-- MRC分子生物实验室(LMB)小组领导人Leo James

Nobel laureate Venki Ramakrishnan sits at a dining table in the airy, top-floor canteen of the Medical Research Council (MRC) Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) in Cambridge, U.K. A buzz of lively conversation rises from the table. It\'s morning tea break, and the room is full of researchers. To a British observer, there\'s nothing unusual about this scene. \"Every university department has tea breaks. All of England has tea breaks,\" Ramakrishnan says.

诺奖得主Venki Ramakrishnan 坐在餐桌旁边,就在一个位于顶层的开阔的餐厅里。这个餐厅位于英国剑桥大学,归属于医学研究理事会(MRC)底下的分子生物实验室(LMB)。

This typical, casual canteen chat only partly reveals the facility\'s successful lab culture, which encouraged Ramakrishnan to focus on understanding the ribosome, the cellular machinery that turns RNA into protein. The work won Ramakrishnan a share of the Nobel Prize in chemistry 2009.

这种常见的随意的餐厅聊天仅仅揭开了这个机构成功的实验室文化的一部分。这种文化鼓励了Ramakrishnan专注于钻研细胞中的核糖体(the ribosom)。核糖体能将RNA转换成蛋白质。这项工作使他获得了2009年诺贝尔化学奖。(the ribosome:核糖体,是最小的细胞器,在光镜下见不到其结构。在1953年由Ribinson和Broun用电镜观察植物细胞时在细胞质中发现--译者注)

He\'s hardly alone. MRC LMB is among the world\'s most successful research centers as judged by its number of Nobel laureates. LMB lists (see box) 13 in-house scientists sharing nine Nobel Prizes since the laboratory was founded by MRC in 1947, among them Francis Crick and James Watson, who received the prize in 1962 for unraveling the structure of DNA.

这并非孤例。若按照诺奖得主数量来衡量,MRC LMB实验室是世界上最成功的研究中心之一。自MRC1947年创建以来,LMB实验室有13位长驻(in-house)科学家共同分享了九个诺贝尔奖,其中Francis Crick和James Watson 获得了1962年诺奖,得奖理由是他们解析(unraveling)了DNA结构。

This isn\'t a world record for Nobel wins. But where other centers may hire established scientists who have already done Nobel-quality work, \"generally, the Nobel Prizes we\'ve won have been for work done here,\" LMB Director Hugh Pelham says.
这并非诺奖数量的世界纪录(该实验室并非获得最多诺贝尔奖的实验室)。但其他(研究)中心可能雇用了知名科学家,这些人已经(在别处)完成诺贝尔奖质量的工作,“一般说来,我们获得的诺奖所表彰的成就基本出自这里。” LMB实验室主任Hugh Pelham 说。
Bright young things
 

聪明的年轻人

One way to run a successful research center is buying in what Pelham terms \"empire builders\" -- established scientists already running large research groups elsewhere. But most of LMB\'s recruits are promising young researchers. \"Ideally, we\'d like to hire people in their early 30s or occasionally even younger,\" Pelham says. Some new heads of research teams have come straight from earning a Ph.D.

要想办一个成功的研究中心,一个方法是购买Pelham所说的“帝国匠人”-- 在其他地方经营大型研究团队的知名科学家。但LMB实验室的大多数雇员都是很有前途的年轻研究员。“理想的情况下,三十出头、甚至偶尔年纪更小的年轻人,我们者乐意聘用。”Pelham这样说。一些研究团队的头头直接来自博土新人。

One young recruit was Jason Chin, who was invited to start a research group after giving a talk at LMB when he was just a few months into a postdoc at The Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, California. Chin finished his postdoc, joined LMB in 2003, then last year won the European Molecular Biology Organization gold medal for his work in synthetic biology. (Read more about him in this previous Science Careers article.)

一个年轻的雇员是Jason Chin。他在LMB做了一次发言后,就受邀前来开始带领一个研究小组。那时他在加州圣地亚哥的The Scripps Research Institute刚刚开始了几个月的博土后研究。Chin完成了(在加州的)博土后工作,于2003年加入LMB实验室。去年他获得了欧洲分子生物组织金奖,理由是他在合成生物学方面的成就。

Chin is just one example of the lab\'s successful, and early, talent spotting. The lab often identifies promising young scientists through personal recommendations or first-hand observation, at conferences, for example. \"We listen to them at talks, have them visit to talk about their goals and ideas, and get a feel for whether they\'re good,\" Ramakrishnan says. \"Talking to them is very important. Smart people stand out,\" Pelham says, then adds that they don\'t get it right every time.
Chin只是该实验室成功且提早发掘人才(模式)的一个例子。该实验室经常通过个人推荐或第一手观察(例如在[学术]会议上)来挑出有前途的年轻科学家。“我们听他们发言,让他们来访学,谈谈他们的目标和想法,这样我们就对他们是否优秀有了感性认识,” Ramakrishnan说。“与他们交谈非常重要。聪明人会脱颖而出,”Pelham说,然后加上一句,他们并非每次都能判断正确。
To be of interest to LMB, young scientists should have done important or original work in more than one scientific setting. But important research doesn\'t necessarily mean a paper in Cell. \"We don\'t really care if they\'ve had a high-profile paper,\" Ramakrishnan says. \"We go less by publications and are more willing to use our own criteria, of which an important component is that they should be interested in a long-term, challenging goal.\"

要获得LMB的关注,年轻科学家应当在不只一个学术机构做出过重要或原创的成果。但重要研究并不必然是在Cell(学术期刊--译者注)上发篇论文。“我们根本不在意他们是否发了一篇惹人注目的论文,” Ramakrishnan说道。 “ 我们极少以作品发表量来衡量,而更愿意用我们自己的标准,其中一个重要考虑因素是他们要对一个有挑战性的目标有长期的兴趣。

The laboratory uses a U.S.-style tenure system -- MRC\'s Programme Leader-Track (PLT) scheme -- to train new early-career group leaders and weed out unproductive people. About a fifth of the leaders of \'LMB\'s more than 50 research groups are currently PLTs, with 80% of the rest having already passed through the program.
该实验室运用了美国式的终身职(考核)体系--MRC项目领导者跟进(PLT)计划--来培训新晋的处于职业早期的小组领导者,同时清除没有生产力的人。LMB实验室有五十多个研究小组,大约五分之一的小组领导者现在都在这个PLT项目里,余下的小组领导者有80%已经通过了这个项目(考核)。
All PLTs have a midterm review, where they give a presentation and are quizzed by Pelham and the heads of LMB\'s four divisions: cell biology, neurobiology, protein and nucleic acid chemistry, and structural studies. Like all LMB staff members, they have an annual appraisal. \"By these means, we let PLTs know what we expect and what we value,\" Pelham says. Unlike many tenure calendars, the PLT schedule is flexible; at any point during the first 6 years, the laboratory can award a permanent position. Most succeed, but some have to leave, Pelham adds.

所有PLT参与者都要经历一个中期评审(review),在会上他们要做报告,回答Pelham 和LMB实验室四个部门头头的提问。这四个部门分别是:分子生物(cell biology),神经生物(neurobiology),蛋白质与核酸化学(protein and nucleic acid chemistry),以及结构研究(structural studies)。就像所有LMB的员工一样,他们也要做年度评估(annual appraisal)。“通过这些措施,我们让PLT参与者了解我们所期待的内容与我们所看重的东西,” Pelham说道。 PLT授予终身职的时间灵活,不像许多(机构)定死了终身职授予日程;在头六年的任何时间点,该实验室都能授予终身职位。 多数人成功留下来了,但少数人得离开,Pelham补充道。

Tea-break triumphs

Also important is inspiring and guiding younger researchers to do great work. One way this is done is through LMB\'s collaborative, informal culture. The tea breaks are a good example. \"There are senior investigators sitting with first-year graduate students,\" Ramakrishnan says.

茶歇时间

另外一个重要事情就是鼓舞和引导年轻研究者去做出杰出成果。在这里靠的是LMB的协作和随意(informal)文化。茶歇就是一个好例子。“在这里,资深研究者与一年级研究生坐在一块,” Ramakrishnan说。

Asking anyone for help is encouraged. Pelham says that, as a recently tenured group leader, he learned yeast genetics through discussions with people in another research group. For students, it\'s \"totally acceptable\" to ask a senior researcher who isn\'t your own supervisor about your problem, says Rebecca Voorhees, who has just finished a Ph.D. and is now a postdoc in Ramakrishnan\'s research group. \"That\'s the collaborative attitude at the LMB.\"

这里鼓励向任何人寻求帮助。作为最近获得终身职的小组领导者,Pelham说到,他通过与别的研究小组一块讨论而学习了yeast genetics。对学生来说,向一个并非导师(supervisor)的资深研究员提问也是“完全可以接受”的, Rebecca Vooorhees 说道,她刚完成了博士学业,正在Ramakrishnan的研究小组做博士后工作,“这就是LMB实验室的协作态度。”

Outside those tea breaks, young scientists have easy access to all group leaders, especially their own. None of the leaders have a personal assistant who screens visitors, says Ramakrishnan, whose office leads directly onto his laboratory. \"I try to be aware day to day of what\'s going on in the lab.\" Voorhees says she sees Ramakrishnan several times a day. \"You\'re more comfortable dropping in and asking a quick question,\" she says. \"At every other lab I\'ve visited, to get to a senior researcher\'s office, you\'ve got to go through a door, a secretary, and another door.\"

茶歇时间外,年轻科学家很容易接近所有的小组领导者,尤其是本小组的领导者。领导者没有私人助理来筛选来访者,Ramakrishnan说,而他本人的办公室直通他的实验室。“我试着天天注意实验室有什么进展。” Voorhees则说,她一天之内会见到Ramakrishnan好几次。“你可以很自在地拜访他一下,问个简短的问题,” 她说道。 \"在我去过的别的任何一间实验室,若要进入资深研究者的办公室,你得通过一道门,一个秘书,还有另外一道门。”

Big ideas
 

大创意

Another reason for LMB\'s success may be the risky, hard-to-solve problems the researchers are encouraged to tackle. \"At the LMB, you can approach big questions, like how is gene expression controlled?\" says Lori Passmore, an LMB group leader studying the function and assembly of protein complexes. Passmore was a postdoc in Ramakrishnan\'s lab.
LMB成功的另一个原因可能是鼓励研究者去解决有风险、难解决的难题。“在LMB,你能提出并着手解决(approach)大问题,例如要是有人控制了基因表达式会怎么样(how is gene expression controlled)?\" Lori Passmore说,其本人带领一个小组研究the function and assembly of protein complexes。 Passmore曾是Ramakrishnan实验室的博士后。
LMB researchers can afford to ask big questions: They don\'t have to teach, and they are free to do whatever research interests them. \"There\'s a tradition of trying to hire smart people and then basically leaving them to it,\" says Leo James, a group leader in the Protein and Nucleic Acid Chemistry Division. There\'s less pressure to constantly publish papers. \"It\'s an environment where you\'re encouraged to go after the big thing instead of having to have a publication every 3 months,\" James says.
LMB研究者有能力提出大问题:他们不需要人教,他们可以自由地做他们感兴趣的研究。” 这儿有种传统:竭力雇来聪明人,随后基本放手让他们自己做,“ Leo James说,其本人是蛋白质与核酸化学部门的一个小组领导者。这里几乎没有持续发表论文的压力。”这样的环境里,鼓励你去追逐大事业而不是每三个月发表一篇什么东西。“James说道。
Behind the success
 

成功背后

 
LMB\'s funding model also encourages risky, long-term research and the lab\'s collaborative culture. It receives stable core funding, which is shared by all research groups and reviewed every 5 years. The divisions each get a share of space and the budget, which they distribute at their discretion, Pelham says. Group leaders can expect a couple of MRC-funded positions for postdoctoral researchers or technicians and an average of two Ph.D. students. Additional postdoctoral researchers may be funded from personal fellowships. Many group leaders also have external grants that allow them to hire more people, but they must get permission before applying to ensure there\'s enough space for expansion. Research projects are funded from the core MRC budget, subject to decisions by Pelham and the heads of the laboratory\'s four divisions. The process is faster than making a grant application, James says.
  LMB实验室的资助模式也鼓励有风险的长期研究以及它的协作文化。它获得稳定的核心资助,由所有研究小组共享,每五年评审一次。每个部门都会获得一定份额的空间和预算,并由他们自行分配,Pelham说。小组领导者会获得两个由MRC资助的博士后研究者或技术员名额,还有平均下来每个小组两名博士生名额。额外的博士后研究者可能要用个人研究资金来资助。许多小组领导者也有外部经费,这使他们能雇用更多人,但他们在申请前必须获得许可,以确保有足够空间来扩张。研究项目由MRC核心预算资助,由Pelham和实验室四部门头头来决定(去向及分配)。这个过程比申请经费来得快, James说道。
Ramakrishnan says LMB\'s secure, long-term funding allowed him to focus on his Nobel Prize–winning research, which he began at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. \"I didn\'t put all my energy into that project until I had the security of the LMB,\" he says. Otherwise, he\'d have spread his efforts over several projects to reduce the risk, and \"probably missed the bus.\"
Ramakrishnan说, LMB稳定和长期的资助使他能够专注于他获得诺贝尔奖的研究,这始于他在盐湖城的犹他大学的研究。”我并没有把我的所有精力都放在这个项目上,直到我得到了LMB的稳定资助,“他说。否则,他得把他的精力分散到几个项目中,以降低风险,而”(那样的话)可能错过了车。“
The success of every researcher contributes to the lab\'s funding prospects, which encourages cooperation, Ramakrishnan says. \"One thing I\'ve noticed here is, if someone does well, there\'s no jealousy. We\'re all in the same boat.\"

每个研究者的成功都会对实验室的资助前景有贡献,这鼓励了合作,Ramakrishnan说道。”在这里,我注意到,如果某个人做得出色,其他人不会眼红。我们大家都在同一条船上。“

Replicating success
 

复制?

LMB has a long history, and replicating its culture is a challenge. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute\'s Janelia Farm Research Campus in Ashburn, Virginia, was founded in 2006 with a similar approach. (See related Science Careers articles here and here.) Janelia Farm even experimented with MRC LMB\'s traditional English tea and coffee hours, but an all-day cappuccino bar and affordable lunchroom worked better in America, says Kevin Moses, former chief academic officer at Janelia Farm. But whether LMB\'s culture can be copied remains an open question. Janelia Farm hasn\'t won a Nobel Prize yet. \"The jury is still out,\" Moses says.
LMB历史悠久,要复制它的文化是个挑战。霍华德-休斯医学研究所(The Howard Hughes Medical Institute)属下的简力亚-房姆研究园(Janelia Farm Research Campus)采用了类似的方法,该园位于弗吉尼亚州阿什本(Ashburn, Virginia),创建于2006年。该园甚至(一度)试验了(英国)LMB实验室的传统英国茶和咖啡时间,但是全天卡布其诺咖啡店及可负担得起的餐厅(affordable lunchroom)在美国更有效果, Kevin Moses说,其本人是该园前任首席学术负责人(chief academic officer)。但LMB文化是否能够复制还是个有待解决的问题。该园还没拿过诺贝尔奖呢(2006年才成立耶!--译者)。”还得等等看。(原文The jury is still out 是个习语,表示尚未作出决定--译者)“ Moses说道。
Still, you don\'t have to be at LMB to profit from its example. \"Doing work of high quality and lasting importance is usually a good strategy\" for those with high scientific aspirations, Pelham says. \"Think of the big questions and try to answer them.\" Another part of the recipe: \"Start small and preferably stay small if you can,\" Ramakrishnan adds. \"If you look at the seminal papers in a big breakthrough and think, \'What was the situation of the scientist when they published this paper?\' More often than not, it was when they were small.\"

不过,你不在LMB实验室工作也能从这个例子受益。对那些有着很大科学抱负的人来说,”做高质量和长期重要的研究通常是个好策略,“Pelham 说。”思考重大问题并且想办法回答。“ 这个秘诀的另一半就是:”从小处着手,并且如果你能一直保持就更好,“Ramakrishnan补充说,”如果你看那些有重大突破的影响深远的论文,会想到,‘这个科学家在发表这篇论文的时候是个什么状态? ’ 没有例外(more often than not),这些论文都围绕小的问题展开(it was when they were small)。“

[原文是“Start small and...” 我把start译为着手。\"着手:动词,开始做;动手:~编制计划|| 提高生产要从改进技术~\"(现代汉语词典第5版“着”zhuo字条)]

 
 The MRC LMB\'s 13 Nobel laureates (Adapted from the LMB Web site.)

-----------------------------------------------------------

附录:LMB实验室的13位诺贝尔奖得主

Venki Ramakrishnan

Venki Ramakrishnan

Joint winner of the 2009 chemistry prize with Thomas Steitz and Ada Yonath \"for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome.\"

2009年化学奖 Joint winner of the 2009 chemistry prize with Thomas Steitz and Ada Yonath \"for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome.\"

Sydney Brenner, Robert Horvitz, and John Sulston

Sydney Brenner, Robert Horvitz, and John Sulston

Joint winners of the 2002 physiology or medicine prize \"for their discoveries concerning genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death.\"

2002年生理医学奖 Joint winners of the 2002 physiology or medicine prize \"for their discoveries concerning genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death.\"

John Walker

John Walker

Joint winner of the 1997 chemistry prize with Paul Boyer and Jens Skou for his \"elucidation of the enzymatic mechanism underlying the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP).\"

1997年化学奖 Joint winner of the 1997 chemistry prize with Paul Boyer and Jens Skou for his \"elucidation of the enzymatic mechanism underlying the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP).\"

César Milstein and Georges Köhler

César Milstein and Georges Köhler

 Joint winners of the 1984 physiology or medicine prize with Niels Jerne \"for theories concerning the specificity in development and control of the immune system and the discovery of the principle for production of monoclonal antibodies.\"

1984年生理医学奖 Joint winners of the 1984 physiology or medicine prize with Niels Jerne \"for theories concerning the specificity in development and control of the immune system and the discovery of the principle for production of monoclonal antibodies.\"

Aaron Klug

Aaron Klug

Winner of the 1982 chemistry prize \"for his development of crystallographic electron microscopy and his structural elucidation of biologically important nucleic acid-protein complexes.\"

1982年化学奖 Winner of the 1982 chemistry prize \"for his development of crystallographic electron microscopy and his structural elucidation of biologically important nucleic acid-protein complexes.\"

Fred Sanger – twice

Fred Sanger – 两次

Joint winner of the 1980 chemistry prize with Walter Gilbert for his \"contributions concerning the determination of base sequences in nucleic acids\" and winner of the 1958 chemistry prize \"for his work on the structure of proteins, especially that of insulin.\"

1980年化学奖 +1958年化学奖 Joint winner of the 1980 chemistry prize with Walter Gilbert for his \"contributions concerning the determination of base sequences in nucleic acids\" and winner of the 1958 chemistry prize \"for his work on the structure of proteins, especially that of insulin.\"

Francis Crick and James Watson

Francis Crick and James Watson

Joint winners of the 1962 physiology or medicine prize with Maurice Wilkins \"for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material.\"

1962年生理医学奖 Joint winners of the 1962 physiology or medicine prize with Maurice Wilkins \"for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material.\"

Max Perutz and John Kendrew

Max Perutz and John Kendrew

Joint winners of the 1962 chemistry prize \"for their studies of the structures of globular proteins.\"

1962年化学奖 Joint winners of the 1962 chemistry prize \"for their studies of the structures of globular proteins.\"

Vivienne Raper is a freelance journalist in London.

-----------------------------------

(本文作者)Vivienne Raper是来自伦敦的自由新闻记者

 


[评论人:张九庆] 评论时间:2013-01-09 16:39:53
是什么造就了伟大的实验室,怎样的土壤能够孕育诺奖成果?在过去两百年中杰出的实验室很多,但几乎没有哪个能比得上英国剑桥分子生物学实验室LMB。本周正值LMB首个实验楼建立50周年,而LMB也正是在那一年迎来了四位科学家同时获诺贝尔奖的殊荣,他们分别是马克斯·佩鲁茨、约翰·肯德鲁、詹姆斯·沃特森和弗朗西斯·克里克。在LMB辉煌的历史中共有13位科学家成员获得诺贝尔奖,此外还有八位诺奖获得者曾在该实验室受训或工作过。LMB出身显赫,其前身源自著名的剑桥大学卡文迪许实验室。当时想必没人能预见到它日后会有如此多的巨大成就。不过从历史上来看,它与其他一些杰出实验室有着共同的特点,它们都积极采用新技术方法、创新研究人员培养方式、并对新兴科学领域充满热情和创新意识,当然最关键的是这些实验室能够吸引能做出成就的天之骄子。科研实验室的历史可以追溯到十九世纪早期,在这段历史中LMB是现代实验室的典范。在LMB之前还有许多具有不同时代特色的伟大实验室。早期实验室在十九世纪以前,大多数实验室都是个人的工作场所,有时会配有一到两个助手。由妻子辅助的化学家安东尼·拉瓦锡(1743–94)就是一个典型例子。在那时妻子和仆人充当实验助手的现象非常普遍,直到尤斯图斯·冯·李比希 (1803–73)将这一模式彻底改变。李比希的化学实验室于1826年开设在德国Giessen大学。该实验室的声誉吸引了整个欧洲的学生,也为李比希赢得了“有机化学之父”的美誉。李比希的实验室是研究及教学设施的早期典范,一间房的实验室中间生着火,周围围绕着实验台。李比希对他的门徒进行培训,尤其着重训练他们的分析能力。欧洲各地的学生蜂拥而来,使得欧洲十九世纪中期的化学带有鲜明的李比希风格。培训也是俄国生理学家伊万·巴甫洛夫 (1849–1936)理念中的一部分,巴甫洛夫团队的组织形式形成了一个“科研工厂”,是世界上第一批进行专业分工的团队之一。他团队中由不同的成员专门负责外科手术、化学和处理狗等过程。巴甫洛夫的实验室占据了整座建筑。随着科研越来越复杂,协作性越来越强,实验室的规模也在快速发展,一个典型例子就是托马斯·亨特·摩尔根(1866–1945)位于纽约哥伦比亚大学的果蝇实验室。以果蝇作为研究对象的现代遗传学实验就在此诞生。摩尔根是位天才科学家,他身边也围绕着同样天才的学生和博后研究者,其中包括Alfred Sturtevant、Calvin Bridges和Hermann J. Muller。尽管摩尔根出身于美国南方贵族家庭,他一直以一种平等的理念经营自己的实验室,以至于历史学家们至今仍对几位当事人的相对贡献争论不已。1933年摩尔根独自赢得了诺贝尔奖,不过他把奖金分给了Sturtevant和Bridges帮助他们抚养子女。只有Muller(研究辐射对突变率影响获1946年诺贝尔奖)正式提到摩尔根有时会利用他的学生。目前人们普遍认为果蝇的遗传学研究是在自由交换和相互贡献的模式下完成的。李比希、巴甫洛夫和摩尔根开创了独特的实验室氛围,他们的实验室不仅获得了国际声誉,更吸引了大批天才科学家,为获得进一步的成就提供了良好土壤。LMB等许多成功的现代实验室都借鉴了摩尔根的平等主义理念。LMB实验室的形成卡文迪许实验室创立于1874年,它的首任主管詹姆斯·克拉克·麦克斯韦(1831–79)被誉为在牛顿和爱因斯坦之间最重要的物理学家。在1962年拥有独立的实验楼以前,LMB只是卡文迪许实验室的一个研究单位。在早期的工作人员中,最重要的莫过于马克斯·佩鲁茨(1914–2002)。他于1936年来到英国,本希望与剑桥大学的生化先驱弗雷德里克·哥兰·霍普金斯一同工作。但他在与卡文迪许实验室的X射线晶体学家J.D.贝尔纳会面后,年轻的佩鲁茨认识到X射线能够作为解析蛋白分子结构的工具。佩鲁茨又花了一年时间才得到了适用于X射线衍射分析的马血红蛋白晶体。但由于二战的阻挠,佩鲁茨在七年后才得以重回血红蛋白研究。当时在卡文迪许实验室主管威廉·劳伦斯·布拉格的鼓励下,佩鲁茨与约翰·肯德鲁(1917–97)合作继续对血红蛋白进行研究。1947年英国医学研究委员会MRC决定对佩鲁茨和肯德鲁的研究进行资助,LMB也在此时正式诞生。佩鲁茨将当时的自己形容为在物理实验室研究生物学问题的化学家。佩鲁茨和肯德鲁在分子生物学研究的道路上继续前行,由于血红蛋白作为模型比较复杂,他们又将更简单的肌红蛋白列入了研究日程。1948年休·赫胥黎加入了这一团队,不过他随后转生物物理学领域,研究肌肉收缩的动力学,这也是实验室研究领域拓展的早期范例。这个研究团队在国际上的声望与日俱增,吸引着众多才华横溢的青年科学家陆续来到剑桥,包括当时的研究生詹姆斯·沃特森和博后弗朗西斯·克里克。成功的实验室往往会产生越来越多的成就,其规模也会逐渐变大。在战后紧缩的英国,对于生物学家们来说卡文迪许实验室越显局促。在发现弗雷德里克·桑格尔也没地方做实验之后,1957年佩鲁茨开始争取一栋专门的分子生物学实验楼,LMB独立实验楼最终于1962年五月投入使用。当年十月,该实验室就迎来了佩鲁茨和肯德鲁的诺贝尔化学奖,以及沃特森和克里克的生理医学奖。开创辉煌1962年是LMB辉煌的开始,在过去半个世纪LMB一直处于分子生物学的核心。伴随着该研究领域的拓展,实验室出现了新兴的发育生物学、免疫学、细胞生物学和神经生物学团队。这样的新团队大多围绕着杰出的科学家形成,例如Sydney Brenner、César Milstein、Aaron Klug 和Michel Goedert。随着实验室的发展,它的管理也相应变得复杂起来。在1979年佩鲁茨退休以前,LMB都没有主管。佩鲁茨不想做主管,这样他在退休后也能够保有实验空间。当时实验室的管理委员会相当松散,大家只偶尔碰个头,其主要任务只是吸引青年才俊。佩鲁茨使实验室的管理结构保持着极简主义,直到1973年LMB都只由一个行政人员Audrey Martin(和她的狗)在照管。此后在实验室继任主管Sydney Brenner、Aaron Klug、Richard Henderson和Hugh Pelham的倡导下,LMB有效复制了摩尔根在哥伦比亚的平等主义研究氛围。目前LMB拥有400名工作人员,其中半数是固定员工,而其他则是学生和访问学者。描述成功总是比解释原因来的容易,新技术、新领域、用新途径解决老问题以及平等主义都是LMB的特色。LMB实验室在过去五十年的辉煌成就,使其规模不断扩大,预计在2013年会有更多的新实验楼竣工。愿LMB这样的实验室长盛不衰