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Guide to the Jane S. Richardson Oral History Interview, 2007 (OH.RICHARDSONJ)

Abstract

Jane S. Richardson (1941- ) is a James B. Duke Professor of Biochemistry. She is known for her work with protein structures. This collection contains 1 oral history interview conducted on November 9, 2007 by Jessica Roseberry as part of the Women in Duke Medicine Oral History Exhibit. In this interview, Richardson discusses her work with her husband in the Department of Chemistry at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Department of Biochemistry at Duke University Medical Center, including her work with protein structures and her ribbon drawings.

Descriptive Summary

Call Number
OH.RICHARDSONJ
Title
Jane S. Richardson Oral History Interview
Date
November 9, 2007
Creator
Richardson, Jane S.
Extent
1 interview (1 master CD, 1 use CD, and 1 transcript)
Repository
Duke University Medical Center Archives

Series Quick Links

Collection Overview

Includes 1 oral history interview with Jane S. Richardson conducted on November 9, 2007 by Jessica Roseberry as part of the Women in Duke Medicine Oral History Exhibit.

In this interview, Richardson discusses her work with her husband, David Richardson, in the Department of Chemistry at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Department of Biochemistry at Duke University Medical Center, including her work with protein structures and her ribbon drawings.

Arrangement Note

Organized into the following series: Interview, November 9, 2007.

Restrictions on Access & Use

Some collections are stored off site and must be requested at least 48 business hours in advance for retrieval.

Access Restrictions

None.

Use Restrictions

Copyright for Official University records is held by Duke University; all other copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Contents of the Collection

1. Interview, November 9, 2007

Series Scope and Contents: This oral history interview was conducted with Jane S. Richardson on November 9, 2007 by Jessica Roseberry as part of the Women in Duke Medicine Oral History Exhibit.

Duration: 01:16:22

Jane S. Richardson discusses her background; her interest in astronomy; her interest in philosophy; working in the same lab where her husband, David Richardson, was getting his PhD; in 1969, the laboratory solving the structure of the Staphylococcal nuclease, the tenth protein structure to be determined; her enjoyment of being unknown; working as a technician in the laboratory; what the structure of a protein might tell about that protein; solving the crystal structure of copper/zinc superoxide dismutase at Duke; learning about the geometry of the active site of this enzyme; the significance of knowing the structure of proteins; X-ray crystallography as the technique used then and still used to solve protein structures; the current worldwide Protein Data Bank, which stores about fifty thousand protein structures; her work as a technician; working on computer models of proteins as early as 1960s; current work of the Richardson lab: building tools for determining and analyzing RNA structure; all-atom contact analysis; other people at Duke currently actively working on protein structure, although not the Richardson lab; Jane Richardson being most noted for ribbon drawings of proteins; ribbon drawings outlining the schematics of all known protein structures in 1980; she and her husband not being able to be in the same department due to nepotism rule at the time; creating a uniform set of conventions for the protein ribbon drawings; the freedom to do this work because she was "invisible"; Duke giving her tenure when she became a member of the National Academy of Sciences; common structures depicted in the ribbon drawings; subjectivity of representing protein structures because she outlined the conventions of the drawings; the ubiquitous nature of the ribbon drawings due to computer graphics; current use of the same conventions; her original method of drawing on top of a computer printout of a very simplified protein structure; the laboratory's invention of Kinemages, one of the first molecular graphics systems available on personal computers; the current size of the laboratory; Duke in the 1970s; Dr. Robert Hill; women as being "on the edges" of the department; her own unusual career track; not getting a PhD; this fact embarrassing the university once she became well-known; receiving a MacArthur Fellowship because of the ribbon drawings; her own circuitous route as being useful; the collaborative nature of her work with her husband; the difficulty in current scientific culture of collaborating, since the tenure emphasis is on receiving credit for something; change in the nepotism rule; pairs of scientists; the connectivity of the current field due to computers; pressure as one result of connectivity; and her enjoyment of having many female colleagues currently. The transcription of this interview was made possible by a grant from the Josiah Charles Trent Memorial Foundation. Includes 1 master CD, 1 use CD, and 1 transcript.

Master CD, November 9, 2007
Box Master (CDs) 1
Use CD, November 9, 2007
Box Use (CDs) A
Transcript, November 9, 2007
Box Transcripts 5

Biographical Note

Jane Shelby Richardson was born on January 25, 1941 and grew up in Teaneck, New Jersey. She received her BA in philosophy in 1962 and her MA and MAT from Harvard in 1966. Although she does not have a formal PhD, she has been given three honorary doctorates, from Swarthmore College (1986), the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill (1994), and the University of Richmond in Virginia (2003).

From 1966 to 1969 she was a technical assistant in the Department of Chemistry at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where her husband, David Richardson, was studying to get his PhD with Professor Albert F. Cotton. In 1969, they solved the crystal structure of Staphylococcal nuclease. They spent a year at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and then came to Duke in 1970, where she worked as an associate in the Department of Anatomy until 1984, a medical research assistant in the Department of Biochemistry until 1988, and a medical research associate professor in the Department of Anatomy until 1991, when she became a James B. Duke Professor in the Department of Biochemistry.

Richardson's most noted accomplishment is her ribbon drawings outlining protein structures, first published in 1981. The drawings are used widely in computer adaptations, and her 1981 paper continues to be cited. Jane and David worked together in their lab to figure out the three-dimensional structure of biological macromolecules. The Richardson Lab was a pioneer in the field of protein de novo design, as well as Mage and kinemages, early molecular graphics systems. Jane and David learned a great deal about aspects that affect the 3-D shape of proteins and how the 3-D shape affects the behavior of proteins. They also designed and made synthetic proteins. These synthetic proteins reveal a great deal about how natural proteins work.

Jane Richardson is a MacArthur Fellow, a member of the Institute of Medicine, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the recipient of numerous awards.

Subject Headings

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Jane S. Richardson Oral History Interview, Duke University Medical Center Archives.

Acquisitions Information

Accession A2007.138 (November 2007)

Processing Information

Processed by Jessica Roseberry: June 2008; encoded by Dawne Howard Lucas: September 2008

Related Material

This interview is part of the Women in Duke Medicine Oral History Exhibit.