William Howard (Bill) McClain

Profile Updated: May 29, 2019
Residing In: Lake Mills, WI USA
Children: Susan Lynn, born 1963; Patricia Ann, born 1966; Gary William, born 1967; Carin Michelle, born 1978
Occupation/Career: Professor, emeritus. Continuing research on origin of the genetic code (that preceded life).
Website: Http://williamhmccclain.com
Military Service: None.
Did you graduate from York or Willowbrook?


What grade school did you attend?

Jefferson (Bellwood, IL)

Name For Your Name Tag:

Bill McClain

Mobile Phone:


Current Marital Status:



Grandchild Sarah Lynn McClain, born 1992 (birthing great grandchild Luke William McClain, born 2019); grandson Kyle William McClain, born 1995; grandson Joe William McClain, born 2000; grandchildren Jack McClain Sigler, born 2003, and Nick McClain Sigler, born 2005. Grandson Trever (Kyle) William McClain, born 2005. Daughter Carin M. McClain, child subsequently birthing Grandchild Nina McClain in March 2018.

Favorite High School Memory:

I have several favorite memories of YCHS, especially graduating following two (or three?) mandatory summer-school courses.

With respect to academics, classroom time often was filled with excessive daydreaming. In general, I was not interested in academics and I did not like to do homework.

What have you done since leaving high school?

See a web site of a recent newspaper article regarding some of my long-term & recent activities:


6-SEP-15: I have disconered the origin and evolution of the genetic code. This code specfies the linear sequence of amino acids in proteins. The identical code governs the formation of grass, elephants, carrots and, of course, humans. The revelation of the the simplicity of the details of the genetic code means that self-replicating systems (not necessarily producing Earth's-life forms) means that many other planets etc. in our solar system and beyond will harbor similar self-replicating systems. I feel fortunate to have been present at this revelation. Gave two seminars on the Origin of the Genetic Code at Yale University, May 11 and May 12, 2015. I will give another seminar on a similar topic at Yale University on March 24, 2016.

Current Interests:

My first and foremost enjoyment stems from interacting with, enjoying, and loving my wonderful, idiosyncratic family members. Though technically retired as of March 2008, I continue thriving on theoretical and experimental scientific investigations at the university. My interest continues on the study of a particular class of cellular macromolecules (and their constituent atoms) that are responsible for the specificity of protein synthesis. The studies are not intended for commercial gain. Rather, I am defining in utmost detail the flow of information from
DNA gene sequences to protein sequences to understand the workings of the process. This process has been in place for billions of years, and is common to all extant forms of life on Earth.

In addition, I am generously rewarded and soothed by reading literature created by accomplished writers. In particular, biographies and select fictional works are my haunts. I am also engulfed and captivated by the visual and performing arts.

Middle Name or Initial:


Most Memorable Experience Since High School:

That I graduated high school, and subsequently higher education venues.

One Thing I Have Done Since High School That Would Surprise My Classmates:

That I was admitted to and graduated from college.
Then went to graduste school, finishing my PhD in three years. Francis H.C. Crick (of the Watson-Crick DNA double helix) reached out to me to join him and Sydney Brenner’s research group in Cambridge, UK. While at Cambridge, I worked intellectually and experimentally with FHC Crick, Sydney Brenner, Fred Sanger, and Aaron Klug (5 Nobel Prized among them).

William Howard (Bill)'s Latest Interactions

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Oct 19, 2019 at 9:41 PM

Hi Bob, I wish you the best and hope to see you at the 2020 Reunion. Bill McClain

May 29, 2019 at 7:17 PM

After 50-some years after YCHS, I gained the courage to invited Susan Stark to meet me in Manhattan, NYC, at the Regis Hotel 5th Ave. & 55 St.). She accepted my invitation and we have been slowly taking one step at a time, each learning the other person’s dynamics.

May 29, 2019 at 7:09 PM
May 29, 2019 at 6:41 PM
Mar 29, 2019 at 3:33 AM
Mar 29, 2018 at 3:33 AM
William Howard (Bill) McClain has left an In Memory comment for his Profile.
Feb 21, 2018 at 11:33 AM

Roger was a truely remarkable person. He respected everyone and also I had the sense, from a distance, that his care about others was palpable. He was a team player and fit in every communal situtation. We have lost one of our best classmates.

Bill McClain

Mar 29, 2017 at 3:33 AM
Mar 29, 2016 at 3:33 AM
Mar 29, 2015 at 3:33 AM
William Howard (Bill) McClain changed his "Then" picture. New comment added.
Nov 25, 2019 at 7:31 AM

Posted on: Jan 20, 2015 at 2:42 PM

Jan 20, 2015 at 2:40 PM
William Howard (Bill) McClain changed his profile picture. New comment added.
Nov 25, 2019 at 7:32 AM

Posted on: Jan 20, 2015 at 1:42 PM

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Posted: Dec 16, 2013 at 11:49 PM
Just outside my laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, April 2009
Posted: Dec 16, 2013 at 11:49 PM
BACKGROUND: Transfer RNA (tRNA) converts the instructions in a gene into amino acid subunits, forming protein. Proteins are composed of 20 amino acid types, wherein each amino acid type corresponds to one type of tRNA. The tRNA is built of nucleotide subunits. The sequence of nucleotides in a tRNA is highly variable and determines the specificity of each tRNA for its amino acid.

THE FIGURE: Representation of a tRNA, comprised of a repeating backbone (blue line) with one of four pendent nucleotides at 76 sites (yellow circles). Our novel computational analysis of the nucleotide sequences of the 20 types of tRNA enabled us to predict which nucleotides were both favored by each tRNA acceptor type and disfavored by the other 19 tRNAs. Larger yellow circles were more predictive. Guided by computer analysis, we chemically redesigned a tRNA gene from type #1 to type #2. Protein sequencing revealed that cells containing the redesigned tRNA switched their specificity to that of type #2.
Posted: Dec 16, 2013 at 11:49 PM
Caught dispatching last-minute-prepared comments on the dictates of the Scientific Method and its links to impeccable personal integrity, just prior to delivering pre-prepared research seminar at an international symposium in India (December 2011).
Posted: Dec 16, 2013 at 11:49 PM
Vacationing in Mexico, February 2009