Robert Martienssen - Meeting Barbara McClintock

I spent the afternoon with her, talking about my work and, of course, also about hers. It was really like a piece of history to me and it was a very, very important first meeting. After that time, I came here-a few months later-to take up the faculty position and I spent a lot of time with her, talking about the impact of transposable elements on gene expression, which was really the central interest of her work, actually. She often used to say that the real secret of transposable elements was not the fact that they could transpose. Although that was a great discovery and a very important thing in the history of genetics, her real interest was in the way in which they influenced what she called genic expression. And now, of course, the whole field of gene expression is an enormous one and one that, in many ways, she was right at the beginning of in the 1940s and '50s. And so it was that area that interested her most.