Saturday, November 08, 2008

Remembering C.C. Tan

I read this morning (link) that Tan Jiazhen, better known in the U.S. as C. C. Tan, passed away Nov. 1, at age 99. I suspect that his influence on genetics probably much greater than most Americans appreciate. He worked with the first generation of Drosophila geneticists, and he was Dobzhansky's first Ph.D. student at Cal Tech, yet his career extends into the modern era, and many of the young Chinese scientists coming to the United States now have met him. It's impossible for me to evaluate how much he is responsible for the intellectual "silk road" that contributes so much vitality to twenty first century genetics, but I suspect that without C.C. Tan it would be much less traveled. Interested readers should consult Jim Crow's commentary in genetics (Vol. 164, pg. 1 *) to see how he managed to bring Chinese genetics into the modern era, past the Lysenko years and the Cultural Revolution.

* This page, like most at, does not load properly in Firefox on Windows. I'm sure that the GSA will fix that. For now, I just use another browser when I visit the GSA.