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Jerry Adams

For the Irish Republican politician, see Gerry Adams.

Jerry McKee Adams, FAA, FRS (born 17 June, 1940) is an American molecular biologist whose research into the genetics of haemopoietic differentiation and malignancy, led him and his wife, Professor Suzanne Cory, to be the first two scientists to pioneer gene cloning techniques in Australia, and to successfully clone mammalian genes. Since 1982, Adams and Cory have been sharing the position of Joint-Head of the Molecular Genetics of Cancer Division at The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI) in Melbourne (Australia).

Their research, together with that by Susumu Tonegawa, also led to the discovery that antibody genes encode as bits and pieces, that can recombine in a myriad of ways to help fight infection; they also confirmed earlier work by Shen-Ong & Cole, Leder, Hood, Croce, and Hayward that genetic mutation leads to Burkitt's lymphoma, a malignancy of antibody-producing cells, called "B lymphocytes".

It was in Adams' lab that his PhD student, David Vaux, made the connection between apoptosis (programmed cell death) and cancer, while studying bcl-2 gene in follicular lymphoma, the most common human lymphoma.

After completing his PhD, Adams was awarded the Helen Hay Whitney Fellowship to pursue post-doctoral training. He spent a year working under Professor James Watson at the MRCL of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England. He then moved to the Institut de Biologie Moléculaire, at the University of Geneva, where he trained under Professor A. Tissiéres. During this stay in Geneva, he met Suzanne Cory, and started their long-term collaboration. Adams and Cory subsequently moved to Australia, and began working at WEHI where they established the Institute’s first molecular genetics laboratory.

Their research first looked into how lymphocytes could produce so many different antibodies, providing insights into the constant and variable segments of antibodies, and how they are rearranged and deleted. Next, Adams and his team moved into the study of the genetics of cancer.


  • Adams J & Cory S 1998. The Bcl-2 protein family: Arbiters of cell survival. Science. 281 1322-1325.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Jerry_Adams". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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