Fifty Years of Reverse Transcriptase

October  28 - 31, 2020 October 20-23, 2021
Posters: to be announced 


John Coffin, Tufts University
Steve Goff,
Columbia University
Anna-Marie Skalka,
Fox Chase Cancer Center
Steve Hughes,
National Cancer Institute
Hung Fan,
University of California Irvine

It is with regret that we announce the postponement of the 2020 Cold Spring Harbor meeting on Fifty Years of Reverse Transcriptase till October 2021. 

The discovery of Reverse Transcriptase 50 years ago was one of the most dramatic findings of the 20th century, for both scientific and non-scientific reasons. The discovery provided instant proof for the previously ridiculed hypothesis that retroviruses replicate through a DNA intermediate, amending a widely held dogma of genetic information flow, and establishing a new paradigm of gene transfer.  The unique properties of retroviruses also laid the essential technical and conceptual groundwork for defining discoveries to follow – the molecular basis of cancer, the causes of important animal and human diseases, including T cell lymphoma and AIDS, as well as the rapid development of antiretroviral drugs in response to the HIV pandemic. 

This 2021 Cold Spring Harbor biohistory meeting will address Fifty Years of Reverse Transcriptase  and will begin at 7:30 PM on Wednesday, October 20th and concluding with lunch on Saturday, October 23rd. The goal of this meeting is to bring together the researchers involved in these seminal discoveries, to exchange historical information and insights into what made them possible, and to provide an historical archive of a major turning point in the remarkable story of 20th century biological science.


  • Pre-discovery, Discovery, and Impact of RT:
  • Mechanism of RT and Role in (Retro)Viral Replication
  • RT as Tools and Target
  • RT, Retroviruses, Cancer and Other Disease
  • RT and Evolution I Endogenous Retroviruses
  • RT and Evolution II Other Retroelements/Normal Roles

Session Chairs (to be reconfirmed):

Hung Fan, University of California, Irvine
Dixie Mager, British Columbia Cancer Research Center, Canada
Suzanne Sandmeyer, University of California, Irvine
Marty St. Clair, ViiV Healthcare
Alice Telesnitsky, University of Michigan
Rayla Temin, University of Wisconsin

Invited Speakers (to be reconfirmed):
Irina Arkhipova,
Marine Biological Laboratory
Eddy Arnold, Rutgers University and CABM
David Baltimore, Caltech
J. Michael Bishop, University of California, San Francisco
Jef Boeke, NYU Langone Health
John Coffin, Tufts University
Kathleen Collins, University of California, Berkeley
Jaquelin Dudley, The University of Texas at Austin
Robert Gallo, University of Maryland School of Medicine
Stephen Goff, Columbia University
Alex Greenwood, Leibniz-Institut fur Zoo-und Wildtierforshug, Germany
Thierry Heidmann, Institut Gustave Roussy, France
Thomas Hohn, Friedrich Miescher-Institut, Switzerland
Stephen Hughes, National Cancer Institute
Welkin Johnson, Boston College
Haig Kazazian, Johns Hopkins University
Christine Kozak, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Alan Lambowitz, The University of Texas at Austin
Jay Levy, University of California, San Francisco
Jeffrey Lifson, National Cancer Institute at Frederick
Maxine Linial, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Tom Maniatis, New York Genome Center
Malcolm Martin, NIAID, National Institutes of Health
William Mason, Fox Chase Cancer Center
Jeffrey Miller, University of California, Los Angeles
Hiroaki Mitsuya, National Cancer Institute
Karin Moelling, University of Zurich, Switzerland
Benjamin Neel, NYU Langone Health
Douglas Richman, University of California, San Diego
Raymond Schinazi, Emory University
John Sedivy, Brown University
Anna Marie Skalka, Fox Chase Cancer Center
Bruce Stillman, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Jonathan Stoye, The Francis Crick Institute, UK
John Tooze, Rockefeller University
Harold Varmus, Weill Cornell Medical College
Peter Vogt, Scripps Research
Robin Weiss, University College London, UK

For these unique science history meetings, we invite speakers who made many of the seminal discoveries that began a field as well as those currently working in that field. We also invite historians who have examined the scientific and societal context of the field. Like the previous meetings in the series, this meeting will provide an excellent opportunity to look in-depth at the history of a topic in biology and share stories that may be missing from purely academic accounts.

Registrations are warmly welcomed from scientists, clinicians, historians, activists, and journalists. You must be registered in order to present a poster. Once registered you will receive a confirmation email containing the link for abstract submission. If you wish to present a poster, please plan on a maximum size of 4ft x 4ft (1.22m x 1.22m). Click the Information tab above for details on presenting posters at CSHL meetings.

We have applied for funds from industry and other sponsors to partially offset registration costs for some attendees. Please apply in writing via email to Val Pakaluk and state your financial needs.

Social Media:

The designated hashtag for this meeting is #cshhist20. Note that you must obtain permission from an individual presenter before live-tweeting or discussing his/her talk, poster, or research results on social media. Click the Policies tab above to see our full Confidentiality & Reporting Policy.

Financial support provided by: TBA


Academic Package: $tba
Graduate/PhD Student Package:
Corporate Package: $tba
Academic/Student No-Housing Package: $tba
Corporate No-Housing Package: $tba

Regular packages are all-inclusive and cover registration, food, housing, parking, a wine-and-cheese reception, and lobster banquet. No-Housing packages include all costs except housing. Full payment is due four weeks prior to the meeting.