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Foundation of EMBL

The European Molecular Biology Laboratory was the idea of prominent scientists such as the American physicist and molecular biologist Leo Szilárd and Nobel Prize winners James D. Watson and John C. Kendrew. Their goal was to create a CERN-like supranational research centre to redress the balance in the strongly US-dominated field of molecular biology.


[ N.B. "Viki" referred to in the audio by Dr. Brenner is Victor Weisskopf. He served as Director General of CERN from 1961 to 1966.]


The founding contract of this centre of excellence was signed in July 1974 on a basis of an intergovernmental treaty of nine European countries plus Israel. Since then, the number of member states has increased progressively, until Luxembourg became the twentieth member in 2007, and Australia joined as an associate member in 2008.


EMBL's founding father John C. Kendrew served as the first Director General of EMBL until 1982, when he was succeeded by Lennart Philipson. The third Director General, Fotis C. Kafatos, served from April 1993 to April 2005. Iain Mattaj, who was Scientific Director from 1999 until 2005, is EMBL's fourth and current Director General.


Source of main text: EMBL

Audio Source: EMBO in perspective: A half century in the life sciences. Georgina Ferry.

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