Joseph Sambrook

Joseph Frank Sambrook (born 1 March 1939 in Liverpool, England, died 14 June 2019) was a British molecular biologist known for his studies of DNA oncoviruses and the molecular biology of normal and cancerous cells. He resided in Melbourne, Australia with his wife and daughter.

Joseph Sambrook
Born (1939-03-01) 1 March 1939
DiedJune 14th 2019
Melbourne, Australia
ResidenceMelbourne, Australia
Alma materAustralian National University
Known forLaboratory manual Molecular Cloning, work on oncoviruses
AwardsVictorian Government Leadership and Innovation Award, Elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and the Royal Society
Scientific career
FieldsMolecular biology
InstitutionsMRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

Education and early career

Sambrook was educated at the University of Liverpool (BSc (hons) 1962) and obtained his PhD at the Australian National University in 1966. He did postdoctoral research at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (1966–67) and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies (1967–69). In 1969 he was hired by James D. Watson to work at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York. Watson has been reported to say this was the best hiring decision he ever made. Joe was responsible for creating a combative creative environment at CSHL that fomented discovery. Subsequently he worked at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (Dallas).[1]


Sambrook is best known for his studies on DNA tumor viruses and the molecular biology of normal and neoplastic cells. His Tumour Virus Group at Cold Spring Harbor identified and mapped all of the major genes of adenoviruses and SV40, determined their transcriptional control in infected and transformed cells, and elucidated the mechanism of integration of these viruses into the genome of the host cell. He has also made important contributions to the understanding of intracellular traffic and protein folding and is an influential leader in the field of the molecular genetics of human cancer.

Sambrook is a former Director of Research at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne.[2][3] He was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science in 2000.[4] and is a Fellow of the Royal Society.[5] He was the founder and director of the Kathleen Cunningham Consortium for research into familial breast cancer, KConFab, that was established in 1995.[6]

Sambrook has published four editions of the best-selling, highly influential laboratory manual Molecular Cloning, the third in 2001 with David Russell[7] and the fourth in 2012 with Michael R. Green.[8] He is also co-editor of Inspiring Science: Jim Watson and the Age of DNA and Life Illuminated: Selected Papers from Cold Spring Harbor Volume 2, 1972–1994. All three books were published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.

In 2009 he was awarded the "Victorian Government Leadership and Innovation Award".[1]


  1. ""Thank You" Day Awards, BMW Edge, Federation Square, Melbourne 2009". Thank You Day Awards. 20 November 2009. Archived from the original on 17 March 2012.
  2. "Peter Mac - Our History". Archived from the original on 5 April 2010. Retrieved 11 April 2010.
  3. "AAS-President's Notes 10". Australian Academy of Science. 24 March 2000. Archived from the original on 2 March 2011. Retrieved 11 April 2010.
  4. "AAS-President's Notes 11". Australian Academy of Science. 20 April 2000. Archived from the original on 28 November 2010. Retrieved 11 April 2010.
  5. "Prof Joseph Sambrook". The University of Melbourne. Retrieved 12 April 2010.
  6. "kConFab – The Kathleen Cuningham Foundation Consortium for Research into Familial Brest Cancer" (PDF). Retrieved 11 April 2010.
  7. Joe Sambrook and David Russell (2001). Molecular Cloning: A Laboratory Manual, Third Edition (3 Volume Set). Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press. p. 999. ISBN 978-0879695-76-7.
  8. Joe Sambrook and Michael R. Green (2012). Molecular Cloning: A Laboratory Manual (Fourth Edition). Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press. pp. 2, 028. ISBN 978-1-936113-42-2. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
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