Jerry Adams was born in Columbus, Georgia in 1940. His PhD studies under Jim Watson at Harvard (1962-66) revealed methionine tRNA as the initiator of protein synthesis. His post-doctoral studies under Fred Sanger in Cambridge, UK (1966-68) provided the first coding sequence from a model messenger RNA, verifying the recently proposed genetic code. There, he met Suzanne Cory, who became his scientific and life partner. After another post-doctoral period studying RNA sequences in Geneva, Switzerland (1968-71), they founded a molecular biology lab at WEHI in 1971. Aided by early adoption of recombinant DNA technology, they first explored the remarkable genetics of antibody formation and co-discovered mRNA caps. Since the early 1980’s their labs have focused on the genetic basis of cancer, often by developing informative mouse models (eg, Eu-myc mice). The discovery in their lab of the survival function of BCL-2 (Vaux et al, 1988) has led Adams and many talented WEHI colleagues to focus on the BCL-2 family: how it controls apoptosis, its physiological roles and its impact as a cancer target. His 239 publications, cited 40,000 times (167/paper), have led to his election to the Australian Academy of Science, the Royal Society, the US National Academy of Science, and the Academy of the American Association for Cancer Research.