The Pew Charitable Trusts

Michael J. Overduin was born in Ontario, Canada, the second oldest of five children. Overduin's father received master's degrees in English and music and was a teacher who traveled around Ontario to develop new programs at various schools—in music, English, and theater; in addition, he was well-respected in musical communities, especially those associated with churches, he put out several CDs, and, later in life, became a professor (without a PhD). Overduin's mother was a teacher as well, before having her children, and musically inclined too—classical music was a mainstay of the Overduin household. As a child Overduin was interested in music (though never performed) and art, and he appreciated the creativity of science. His interests and his parents' belief in education cultivated his love of biology and nature; influential teachers in school and early laboratory experiences proved formative as well. Overduin matriculated at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada and pursued a major in biology and a minor in mathematics. While in college he completed a thesis with Bernard Glick on the transformation of Pseudomonas aeroginosa and Esherichia coli by electroporation. After receiving his baccalaureate of science, he chose to attend Rockefeller University for graduate studies in structural biology, working in the laboratory of David Cowburn. Overduin's graduate work used nuclear magnetic resonance to determine the structure of a signal transduction protein; additionally, he worked with David Baltimore. For his postdoctoral fellowship, he worked with Mitsuhiko Ikuraat the University of Toronto and focused on the structural protein cadherin and its involvement in cell adhesion. After his time in Toronto, he accepted a position at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and began research on the domain structure of receptors involved in endocytosis. He also assisted in establishing an NMR spectroscopy facility and biomolecular structure program while there. After several years at Colorado, he moved to the University of Birmingham, Birmingham, England, helping build the NMR spectroscopy facility there, and continuing his research on complex systems and protein domains of therapeutic targets. The interview concludes with Overduin's thoughts on his laboratory management style; the process of writing journal articles; the issue of patents; the role of the scientist in educating the public about science; setting the national science agenda; recruiting foreign students as science graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in the United States; and balancing his career and time with his family. Overduin's oral history ends with his reflections on the impact of the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences on his research and what he likes most about being a principal investigator. 

Bruce A. Hamilton was born in Palo Alto, California, where his father was a graduate student in engineering. His mother was at that time a housewife. Having finished his master's degree, the older Hamilton began work in the aerospace industry in Lompoc, California; he then moved to Lockheed Martin and from there to Allied Chemical, where he helped develop airbags. The family moved to Dallas for a year and then to Michigan for two years. When Bruce was about eight they settled in Santa Clarita, where Bruce finished growing up. Bruce's father often brought things home from work, things to set on fire or to explode or otherwise to illustrate science and his own work, so Bruce had a very early exposure to science. His childhood years were otherwise typical of a middle-class family of the time. In elementary school his class had a two-year project that involved building a city; the pupils had to build it physically from Styrofoam, to organize a government for it, etc. Hamilton still thinks it was a wonderful way to instill understanding, knowledge, and enthusiasm for learning in children. In high school he had two excellent biology teachers and an excellent chemistry and calculus teacher; from them he increased his propensity to love science. He also found a non-denominational church attractive, and for a while he considered becoming a minister. In his spare time he attended Boys State, built a darkroom for his photography, and took up drums. Hamilton matriculated at University of California at San Diego, where as a sophomore he discovered that he loved genetics. He did so well in his first genetics class that he was asked to be a teaching assistant the next year. He spent his senior year in Richard Firtel's lab. With the guidance of Richard Firtel and the two teachers of that first genetics class, he ended up at California Institute of Technology for graduate school. There he began working with flies in Elliot Meyerowitz's lab, eventually leaving for Kai Zinn's lab, where he would concentrate more on neural development. He finished his PhD, married, and moved to Boston, where Hamilton took up his postdoc at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research at Massachusetts of Technology, where he worked in Eric Lander's lab for five years. From there he moved back to San Diego, where he accepted a position at the University of California at San Diego. There he continues his research in neurogenetics; writes grant proposals and journal articles; teaches; and attempts to balance his work life with his family life.

Shi Huang was born in Dalian, in the north of China. His mother was a doctor assigned to a military base there, but his father, also a doctor, had been assigned to another base in Beijing. Because this was during the Cultural Revolution, Huang's parents were assigned from time to time to other locations, to "serve the peasants." Huang was sent during those times to his grandparents' house in Wuhan, once when he was about six for a year or so; and his younger brother was sent to relatives in Shanghai. This practice was common at the time in China. When he was seven or eight Huang and his mother moved to Beijing to be with Huang's father. Huang's mother found a job in a hospital nearby, and Huang's father was a microbiologist on the military base. Life in the compound, according to Huang, contained most things people needed, so except for school he seldom ventured outside the walls. In school he did well, being attracted to painting, mathematics, and ping pong. He remembers school as being a school mostly for peasants, so not difficult; he had to learn a lot of political tracts, how to march, and how to work in the fields. He finished his school in Beijing and then went to Shanghai for college. He would have preferred the art academy, but he failed its entrance exam and decided to study genetic engineering instead. The Chinese recognized that at time the United States was superior in science, and many university students wanted to attend American or European graduate schools. He did well on his exam for the graduate program and was selected to participate in the CUSBEA (China-US Biochemistry Examination and Application) program. This was a joint program between China and US professors. Huang studied English for a year at the Guangzhou English Language Center, where he also learned something of American culture and prepared to apply to US graduate schools. He joined John W. B. Hershey's laboratory at the University of California at Davis; there he used a gel electrophoresis assay to study RNA protein interactions. He met his wife, Chen Ruo Ping, who had come to the US on the CUSBEA program as well. She works for a start-up pharmaceutical company, and the Huangs have two children. Huang accepted a postdoc in the Wen-Hwa Lee laboratory at University of California at San Diego, where he initiated a project to express the Rb protein in bacteria. From there he was invited to join the Burnham Institute in La Jolla, California, where he continues his work on RIZ as a tumor suppressor gene and of course continues the scientist's continual search for funding.

Scott W. Rogers was born and grew up in Ogden, Utah. His father, a meat inspector, and his mother, a housewife, were divorced when Scott was about six years old; his father left the state, and Scott lived with his mother. They belonged to the Presbyterian church, an unusual circumstance in Mormon Ogden, and both felt stigmatized and ostracized, at least to some degree. Scott has always loved science; in fact, he feels that he was "born with" that love. He was lucky enough to have good science teachers throughout his school years; he took every possible class, even persuading the junior high school authorities that science was a religion, and that those non-Mormons who did not attend the Mormon class each day should be allowed to study their own "religion," science, during that period. He participated in science fairs, and attended the National Youth Science Camps; at the international science fair he took second place and was offered a job by the USDA botany labs. He persuaded them to change the venue to the Forest Service, and he spent summers working in nearby national parks. He matriculated at Utah State, intending to study botany. He soon found botany boring and, wanting to be "more active in the discovery process" of science, sped up his education to finish in three years. By that time he had become interested in Drosophila genetics, and his mother had been diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. In order to be able to care for his mother Scott decided to do a master's degree at Utah State, working in Eldon Gardner's lab. He finished that degree in a year; his mother died soon after his graduation, and his grandmother and a number of other relatives soon after that. He had intended to pursue a PhD at the University of Michigan that fall, but he gave up those plans and spent a year working as a technician at Utah State. His personal life more settled by then, he entered University of Utah to study human genetics. He found the program not to be on the cutting edge ("Henry Ford" genetics, as he calls it), and went into Martin Rechsteiner's cell biology lab. There he set out to show that protein degradation could occur outside lysosome and could be selective. Rogers there discovered PEST sequences, important to cell regulation. From his master's thesis he got four papers. As he was considering California Institute of Technology and Harvard University for a postdoc, he was introduced to Lorise Gahring, an immunologist who was considering the very same labs. They liked each other immediately and were married six months later. Meanwhile, their original choices for postdocs did not work out, and Lorise took a postdoc at Scripps Research Institute. Scott found one at the Salk Institutes for Biological Studies, working on nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in Stephen Heinemann's lab. When Michael Hollmann cloned glutamate receptors Rogers began working on both receptors, making antibodies. Often Scott and Lorise worked together, approaching the same problem from their different perspectives. After about six years they began searching for jobs, wanting tenure-track positions at the same school. They ended up at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, Colorado. While they were there Scott, even though his lab took about a year to get set up, and Peter Ian Andrews discovered that Rasmussen's encephalitis, until then treatable only by removable of a hemisphere of the brain, could be treated as an autoimmune disease, by neutralizing the sufferer's antibodies. While the Rogerses were at a Neuroscience meeting in California, the entire lab burned down, but at least Scott's serums were preserved in the freezer. This seemed an omen, and the Rogerses left for University of Utah, to take positions at the Veterans Health Administration, in the Eccles Institute of Human Genetics, where in their separate disciplines they studied aging and the immune system, nicotine addiction, etc. For genetic studies Utah's closed and well-documented Mormon society is ideal. For fun, the Rogerses and their dog go fossil-hunting (a hobby that had to be curtailed when Scott published a paper on an Allosaurus endocast, as the avocation was becoming a vocation) in the Great Basin or Moab or other areas nearby. Scott feels he has met his professional and personal goals; that science offers great "freedom of imagination"; that if it were not for having to write grants, he would be like "a kid in a candy store."

Caroline F. Kisker grew up in West Berlin, West Germany, where she attended the John F. Kennedy German-American grammar school. After completing her Abitur, Kisker planned to study medicine, but due to the complicated university placement lottery system Kisker was not able to matriculate at a university. In the interim, while working as a medical apprentice, she decided to pursue biochemistry at the Freie Universität in Berlin. With the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Kisker witnessed an influx of East German students to West Berlin and the universities there. She joined the large laboratory of Wolfram Saenger and throughout the course of her Diplom and PhD , Kisker had the opportunity to conduct laboratory work in Zürich, Switzerland, and Frankfurt, Germany, with Nobel Laureate Hartmut Michel. Her doctoral thesis centered on the determination of medically relevant tetracycline repressor protein, the results of which she published in Science. While working in the Saenger laboratory, Kisker met her husband Hermann Schindelin. After completing their doctorates, they both pursued postdoctoral research in Douglas C. Rees's laboratory at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). At Caltech, Kisker solved the sulfite oxidase structure and published it in Cell. At the end of her time as a postdoctoral fellow, Kisker accepted a position as a faculty member at State University of New York, Stony Brook. In 2000 Kisker received the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences award and in 2006 she moved to the Rudolf Virchow Center at the University of Würzburg, in Germany. She continues her research on structure-based drug design and DNA repair through the tools of structural biology. Throughout her oral history Kisker discusses the differences between the German and American educational and scientific systems and many of the challenges associated with being a woman in science, especially having to balance work with family life during the transition from Stony Brook back to Germany. Kisker also talks about the ways in which structural biology has changed throughout her career in response to new technologies and the ways in which funding affects her research and research choices.

Edwin R. Chapman grew up in Bellingham, Washington, the youngest of four children. His father taught drafting and shop in high school, and his mother stayed at home to raise the children. From an early age Chapman was interested in science, especially in chemistry. He had chemistry sets and a buddy whose father was a pharmacist and who had access to recipes and chemicals; as a result, Chapman set his room on fire several times. His parents were devout Lutherans, but Chapman found religion "didn't make sense" even then. His maternal grandmother came from Romania and had thirteen children; his grandfather came also from Eastern Europe, but it is not clear from exactly where. The thirteen children all had large families, so Chapman has dozens of cousins. Chapman recalls his education in the Bellingham public schools as being unusual and very good, though not especially challenging. He was interested in marine biology, rock collecting, and taking things apart. His father worked construction during summers, and he taught Chapman to do many things around the house. The elder Chapman built a wood lathe, now sixty-one years old, and the two still work together with it. Following, as Chapman says, the path of least resistance, he decided to go to college, and for the same reason he applied to his hometown college, Western Washington University. He discovered there the joy of academic hard work in an organic chemistry class taught by Donald Pavia, whom he considers the best lecturer he has ever encountered. He recently went back to Western Washington University to give a talk and was grateful to show his professors how well he had done because of them. Although the school's emphasis was on classroom teaching, Chapman did his first lab research in the lab of Donald Schwemmin, whom he also remembers fondly. He was yard man at a rental store to support himself during college. For two years after graduation, still not sure what he wanted to do, Chapman worked as a lab technician, designing HIV assays, at Genetic Systems in Seattle. Not wanting to "dead end" there, he realized he needed a PhD , so again "following the path of least resistance" he attended the University of Washington, working in Daniel Storm's lab. Fascinated by the workings of the brain, he decided on pharmacology. Wanting to continue his neuroscience studies, he accepted a Howard Hughes Medical Institute award for a postdoctoral fellowship at Yale in the lab of Reinhard Jahn. Himself a sociable man, Chapman found there people with whom to enjoy talking science and to collaborate. Chapman here compares Jahn's mentoring style and lab management with his own; he then discusses competition and collaboration in science; publishing; his own advice to students. After four years Chapman accepted a position at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he is now a full professor. He discusses his funding history and explains how he set up and manages his lab. He goes on to talk about funding in general; writing grants; peer review system; his professional duties; his current research on membrane fusion, synaptic transmission, and neurotoxins; tenure; teaching and travel commitments; educating people in science. He talks about his Chinese students and his impressions of China, and about foreign students in general. His fascination with the brain has resulted in a practical application: his obsession with listening to music on "high-end audio;" this he explains as changing the brain by training it. Chapman describes his future research in the relationship between presynaptic function and behavior and memory; and practical applications of his work, including his collaboration with Meyer Jackson; his view of the qualities of a good scientist; and his professional and personal goals.

Kevan M. Shokat was born in Boulder City, Nevada, but raised (mostly) in the San Francisco Bay Area in Albany, California (except for a year in Iran), the older—by twelve years—of two brothers. His parents were both active politically, participating in anti-war movements and in anti-shah movements during the 1970s that culminated in the Iranian Revolution of 1979; they started their own copying and commercial printing business, but after some time moved into print brokering, his mother taking a position at Charles Schwab. As a child Shokat enjoyed playing sports, especially baseball and track; he excelled in high school and worked with his parents in the family business.

While his high school was vocationally-minded, a guidance counselor suggested that Shokat apply to Reed College in Portland, Oregon, which he did and subsequently attended. He majored in chemistry and enjoyed lectures offered by Thomas G. Dunne, Phyllis Cozen, and Nick G. Galaktos; he completed his thesis with Ronald W. McClard on phosphorous chemistry, making inhibitors of enzymes, and doing enzyme kinetics and nucleotide metabolism. He was unsure of the kind of graduate program that he wanted to attend so he sent applications both to PhD programs and MD/PhD programs, settling on pursuing his PhD at the University of California, Berkeley. At Berkeley he worked with Peter G. Schultz in biological chemistry in antibody catalysis, and from there went on to a postdoctoral fellowship in immunology with Christopher C. Goodnow at Stanford University. He then accepted a position at Princeton University, during which time he received the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences award and he worked on biochemistry and immunology research in kinase-mediated cell signaling pathways. He left Princeton for a position at the University of California, San Francisco, undertaking chemical genetic research on kinases and their substrates.

At the end of the interview Shokat talks about his future research on chemical genetics and protein kinases in cell signaling pathways; the practical applications of his research; collaboration and competition in science; and his laboratory management style. He also discusses the process of writing journal articles; the issue of patents; the national scientific agenda; the grant-writing process; the privatization of scientific research; educating the public about science; and the importance of students and family in doing science. 

W. Ian Lipkin was born in Chicago, Illinois, one of three children. His parents, of Russian Jewish background, met at the New School in New York City, New York, but moved to Chicago to study at the University of Chicago, his father psychology and his mother social work. The Lipkin parents wanted their son and two daughters to be artists, but only one went into that field. The three went to public schools at first and the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools for high school, as did many other children of faculty. Ian credits his teacher of fourth and fifth grades with teaching him to read and write well. In high school he had good teachers, especially in biology. Ian's father wanted him to go to Sarah Lawrence College, which he did, getting his degree in mythology and anthropology. In his third year he took a class in inorganic chemistry; this class aroused his first real interest in science. Wanting to combine his desire to study primitive people, perhaps Eskimos, with his desire to be of service to people, he decided to go to medical school. After some time spent in travel, Ian matriculated into Rush University in Chicago. In his fourth year he spent some time in the Institute of Neurology in London, England; some time in the Indian Health Service in Oklahoma; and some time at Johns Hopkins University, studying infectious disease. He interned at the University of Pittsburgh, which had a rigorous schedule, so that he could see many patients. He then went to the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington, for his residency in primary care internal medicine. He was sent to their satellite, a Veterans Administration hospital in Idaho. He found the experience there very intense and comprehensive. He also got married and redeveloped his interest in neurology. He then accepted a second residency at University of California, San Francisco. There he became interested in AIDS patients with neurological diseases and opened a clinic to help them. His next stop was Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, where he accepted a postdoctoral fellowship in Michael Oldstone's lab. While there he heard a talk by Opendra Narayan on Borna disease and its links to bipolar disease. When he had finished Oldstone's project he wanted to work on Borna virus, so Ian went to Michael Wilson's lab. He had to overcome much red tape to get brain samples for his study into the effects of neurotransmitter messages levels in the brains of infected mice. The pathogenesis of Borna was then being studied only at two labs in Germany and one at Johns Hopkins University; Ian took up research from the molecular biological standpoint. Next he accepted a generous assistant professorship at the University of California, Irvine. He has since progressed through associate professor to full professor and finally to Co-Director of the Markey Program in Human Biology. He hopes his Borna virus research will ultimately enable scientists to develop a tool for delivering genes and drugs to the central nervous system so that scientists may provide therapy for other neurodegenerative diseases in which Ian has become interested, especially multiple sclerosis and peripheral nerve disorders. He would like to become involved in science policy and administration, feeling it important to communicate about science with the general public; and he listens to music, goes to the beach, and hopes to become fluent in German. 

Richard I. Dorsky grew up in Palo Alto, California. His father was a chemist; his mother was a computer programmer. Dorsky always liked to understand how things worked, and his father promoted Dorsky's early interest in science with simple experiments at home and trips to the chemistry lab. Strong associations with Stanford University faculty and their children further encouraged a strong academic leaning. An outstanding biology teacher in high school turned Dorsky's interest in chemistry to a love of biology. Dorsky entered the University of California, Berkeley, where he majored in molecular biology; he worked in Mark Davis's lab at Stanford University and did summer lab work with Peter Schultz. During his junior year Dorsky injured his knee while skiing for the ski team; after surgery on his knee, he spent some of his recovery time travelling in Europe. He loved Corey Goodman's developmental neurobiology class and entered Goodman's lab, where he wrote his honors thesis with Alex Kolodkin; after his graduation he spent a further year as a technician in Goodman's lab while he considered graduate schools. For his PhD, Dorsky entered William Harris's lab at University of California, San Diego, where he immediately won a National Science Foundation grant and began working on notch function gene in the retina. He met his future wife and followed her to Sydney, Australia, where he spent six months in David Rapaport's lab. While deciding on a postdoc Dorsky became interested Wnt signaling and zebrafish. He accepted a position at the University of Washington, where he worked in two labs, David Raible's and Randall Moon's. There he researched Wnt signaling and continued writing and publishing papers. He left Washington for an assistant professorship at the University of Utah. At the end of the interview he talks about the community of zebrafish scholars, its friendliness and willingness to share; its rapid growth; and its usefulness as a proxy for understanding human brains. He takes the interviewer on a tour of his facility (6,000 tanks shared by eighteen labs) and describes how the University controls access and training. Dorsky talks about the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences grant and the annual meetings. He discusses recruiting students and postdocs; his lab management style; his own bench work; his teaching duties; his administrative commitments; collaborations; and more about publishing and journal hierarchy. Dorsky explains how understanding the zebrafish's brain will lead to understanding human neurogenesis. He concludes his interview by describing how he attempts to balance his family life with life in the lab. 

Ronald A. Milligan grew up on a farm outside of Londonderry, Northern Ireland, the youngest of five children. Life was, in his words, "primitive." He spent most of his free time outside, never feeling bored. He was interested in birdwatching, eventually in hunting birds. He passed his 11+ exam, attended grammar school, and went on to university, the first in his family. He had been interested in biology all through his childhood, and when a school trip to Queen's University in Belfast exposed him to bacteriology, he decided he wanted to study botany and bacteriology. His scores admitted him to the University of Leeds. He had made the decision to be a research scientist earlier, though he does not remember how he learned what a scientist did. During his teenage years religious conflict in Northern Ireland became extreme; there was the outbreak of terrorism and British military occupation. Milligan was graduated with a lower second-class honors degree and began to hunt for a job. He took a position as a research assistant at the Nuffield Institute of Comparative Medicine at the London Zoo, where he studied botulism and bovine pleuropneumonia. From there he became a research assistant at the Medical Research Council (MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England, going to work on nuclear pore complex (NPC) in Nigel Unwin's lab. When Unwin was recruited to Stanford, Milligan went along as a graduate student. Here Milligan discusses Unwin's reasons for leaving MRC and his [Unwin's] own experiences at Stanford. Milligan goes into detail about his work on low-temperature ribosome crystallization and how electron microscopes damage specimens. He spent three months in Heidelberg, Germany, studying cryo-electron microscopy; his results allowed him to acquire independence as a researcher. Milligan talks about his NPC research, grantsmanship, and "safe science"; he explains his work of freezing specimens in amorphous ice and the damage caused by electron microscopy and by freezing; he goes into methods of enhancing imaging, synthetic universe visualization software, omega energy filtering microscopes, field emission guns, atomic force microscopy, and relations with competitors; and he continues with explanations of cell symmetry and the structure of the NPC and NPC intermediate structures. Milligan's research continued with studying muscle cell structure with cryo-electron microscopy, and he collaborated with Paula F. Flicker: there was a lack of evidence for the cross-bridge muscle cycle theory but a discovery of new myosins. He attended cell biology conferences and spent money setting up a lab. He conceived an interest in molecular motors and talks about microtubule dynamics. Milligan winds down his interview with answers to general questions: he talks about the need to work in the mainstream of scientific research; personnel in his lab; the role of computers; how funding trends shape research; the autonomy provided by Scripps Research Institute; Milligan's raison d'étre; pure science and applied science; scientists' motivations; Scripps's ties to Johnson and Johnson; how Scripps recruited Milligan; and the Scripps administration. He finishes with insight into his marriage and thoughts about his future. 

Anirvan Ghosh was in born in Bloomington, Indiana—Ghosh's parents were graduate students there—the older of two children. After a brief time at Rice University in Houston, Texas, Ghosh's family moved to Kanpur, India, where Ghosh grew up. His father was a chemistry professor; his mother taught at local schools and colleges until she received a faculty position teaching comparative literature. Ghosh lived his life in an academic setting, being heavily influenced by the work of his parents and their interest in traveling and showing their children various sites. He stayed in the Indian educational system (which he describes in detail) until he was seventeen years of age at which point he matriculated at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). While transitioning into the American educational system, Ghosh undertook undergraduate research projects in the laboratories of Jack Beacham, Thomas Tombrello, and Jerome Pine. In addition, he was afforded the opportunity to work in Thomas S. Reese's lab at Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory, a place at which he had a "defining" moment during a neurobiology course. Ghosh decided to pursue a graduate education and was torn between attending Stanford University or Harvard University, ultimately choosing the former. At Stanford, he studied under Carla J. Shatz researching brain-cell development After hearing a talk from Michael E. Greenberg at a Gordon Conference, Ghosh became interested in doing his postdoctoral research with Greenberg at Harvard Medical School in the field of molecular neurobiology, focusing on experiential cortical development in the brain. Although neither he nor his wife had ever lived on the East Coast, they decided to move there with their son given the density of universities and potential job opportunities. Upon finishing his postdoctoral research, Ghosh accepted a position at Johns Hopkins University, though soon after decided to move on to a position at the University of California, San Diego. The interview concludes with Ghosh recounting the establishment of his Hopkins laboratory, his transition to San Diego, and his current and future research goals. In addition, Ghosh reflects upon patents; the privatization of scientific research; competition and collaboration in science; the national scientific agenda; underrepresented groups in science; the source of his ideas; and last, but certainly not least, the impact of the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences grant on his work.

Eric G. Pamer was born in Los Angeles, California, where he spent his first several years. His father, who came from Austria, was an engineer with Cleveland Crane; he was transferred to Luxembourg to open a company branch, and the family stayed there for five or six years. Then they returned to Cleveland, Ohio, where Pamer senior became president of Cleveland Crane. Eric's mother had come from Russia and ended up in Los Angeles, where she met and married Eric's father. Eric has a younger sister as well, who has ended up living in Hamburg, Germany. Eric started first grade in Luxembourg in an international school; Eric's classes were in German, but he also studied French, and the family spoke English at home. Just before sixth grade the Pamers returned to Cleveland. Junior high school did not have good teachers or classes and was, in fact, dangerous. High school was better; there Eric had John Hurst as a biology teacher as well as cross-country and track coach. Eric had always liked nature and ecology, and he became very interested in biology. He loved collecting and cataloguing; eventually he studied daphnia as his senior project. He also loved to take long bike rides. Eric completed his BA in biology at Case Western Reserve University, initially studying hydra in Georgia Lesh's lab and working summers at the Cleveland Clinic. Deciding he wanted to go to medical school, he became a good student and finished in three years. He worked on hydra in Georgia Lesh's lab and worked summers at the Cleveland Clinic. He spent a month in Europe, liking it so much he worked as a technician for a year to earn money to travel around the world. He applied to Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and, granted deferment, he spent a year traveling around the world. When he entered medical school he began in Abdel Mahmoud's lab, working on immune defense against schistosomiasis. During his fourth year he spent three months working in a Kenyan hospital. His surgery internship was at University of California at San Diego; he switched to medicine, first as an intern, then as a resident, and finally as chief resident. During this time he met and married his wife, Wendy, and they began their family. Next came three fellowship years in Charles Davis' lab at UCSD. During his first year Pamer worked on African sleeping sickness. He became interested in the study of infectious disease and immunology. He moved his cysteine protease research to Magdalene So's lab at Scripps Research Institute when Davis' lab became too small. From there he and his family moved to Seattle so that he could work on immunity in Listeria in Michael Bevan's lab. After two years and a strong paper, Pamer was offered an assistant professorship at Yale University; he has been there since. He is, however, about to move to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where he wants to build up the infectious disease service. His own work continues to be the study of the interface between the immune system and microbes. His lab has mice whose response to Listeria has been to build immunity rapidly and completely; Pamer wants to study how to use that response in humans to protect such diseases as malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV. Pamer has had a number of grants and published many papers. He teaches; he has some administrative duties; he manages his medium-sized lab; he is attending physician at Yale-New Haven Hospital and the Veterans Administration Hospital two months each year; he continues to publish; he is preparing to move himself and his lab to New York City. Most important, he attempts to balance all this with his life with his wife and two children. If he could not be a scientist he would travel and write books about his experiences. 

Dorit Hanein was born in Tel Aviv, Israel, but grew up in Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil, where her family was engaged in an Israeli-Dutch program to foster soybean cultivation. She and her sister attended all-girl, Roman Catholic schools that accommodated their Jewish upbringing. In the middle of high school, Hanein's mother decided to return to Israel so that the girls would absorb Jewish culture. There, Hanein had to learn Hebrew and also discovered a passion for chemistry. After high school, she enlisted in mandatory service in the Israeli Army. Hanein had difficulties accommodating to army life, as she could not eat army food, which then did not have diets for strict vegetarians. She was unable to participate in guard duty due to an inability to pass basic weapons training, so she was placed in a computer programming track. After the Army, Hanein worked for three years at a car rental agency, which eventually became an unfulfilling job. At that time, she accepted her mother's repeated suggestion to enroll in undergraduate studies. She joined the Shenkar Institute of Textile Technology; there she worked with Dr. Shalev on developing a fire-retardant textile. During the summer break of her third year, she enrolled in a program at the Weizmann Institute of Science, which left a lasting impression on Hanein. After receiving her degree, she spent a year in the chemical industry, which she found male-dominated and stodgy. Hanein then followed Shalev's suggestion that she pursue a graduate degree at the Weizmann. She was accepted and worked on biomineralization and on the specificity of crystal-cell interactions. Required to take biology classes for a chemistry PhD, Benjamin Geiger joined Lia Addadi as her advisor. While publishing four papers during her graduate career, she also gave birth to twin girls. Wanting to expand her knowledge Hanein toured four labs that could provide the training and know-how that cryo-electron microscopy demands. She decided to spend her first postdoctoral year in Boston with Tom Rapoport (Harvard Medical School) and Chris Akey (Boston University); Hanein had both Fulbright and Rothschild Fellowships at this time. At the end of this year, she joined David DeRosier, one of the founders of three-dimensional, high resolution electron microscopy image analysis, for creating three-dimensional structures from electron microscope images of actin complexes. During that time she learned and practiced biochemistry with Paul Matsudaira at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. Near the end of her postdoctoral work, Hanein began to search for jobs; among others, Northwestern University and the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute provided offers. Her decision was made easier when her daughters wanted a house in California because it had a swimming pool. Having a commitment for supporting basic research and a dedicated electron microscope unit clinched the deal. During the interview Hanein talks about the influence of the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences grant; her continuing work with Arp 2/3 complex; collaborations with Rong Li and Thomas Pollard; and her own mentoring style. She describes her view of her own personality and explains that she is becoming more diplomatic, though not less forceful. She talks about fun and scholarly profit at the Pew annual meetings, where she has won a prize for the best hairdo. She discusses the hardships in seeking funds for basic research in the current atmosphere which promotes the applicability (translation) of research. Hanein concludes her interview with a discussion of the difficulties for women in the biophysical sciences.

Theodore S. Jardetzky was raised in Boston, Massachusetts, and Palo Alto, California, the middle of three brothers. Both of his parents were scientists: his father emigrated from Austria to attend Macalester College, remaining in the United States to receive an MD and PhD from the University of Minnesota, and then working at the California Institute of Technology (with Linus Pauling), Harvard Medical School, Merck and Company, and, finally, Stanford University (as a professor of pharmacology); his mother emigrated from Greece to attend Macalester and then pursued her doctorate at the University of Minnesota. As a child, Jardetzky loved to read and was fascinated by music, wanting to play the trumpet but then settling for the clarinet and, later, the saxophone. He spent much time playing with his siblings and friends made in the community of Stanford faculty. In addition to music, he also had a longtime interest in mathematics and science, and had influential teachers in chemistry and biology in high school.
Unsure of what he wanted to pursue for a career, Jardetzky matriculated at Stanford University in order to explore both science and the humanities. While there, he worked in his father’s (Oleg Jardetzky) lab alongside his stepmother, Norma Gene Jardetzky, which proved quite formative: he undertook a senior research project on the structure of the acetylcholine receptor and had the opportunity to meet Kasper Kirschner, with whom Jardetzky decided to work in the Biozentrum at the University of Basel, Switzerland, for his graduate studies. In Kirschner’s lab, Jardetzky looked at the kinetics and equilibrium binding of enzyme reactions and had the fortune to meet Donald C. Wiley, who became his postdoctoral advisor. In Wiley’s lab at Harvard University Jardetzky researched the structure and mechanism of peptide binding for MHC Class II histocompatibility proteins, after which he accepted a position at Northwestern University looking at the interactions of the immune response, the structure of antibody receptors, and viral pathogenesis.
The interview concludes with reflections on Jardetzky’s professional and personal goals; his future research on the structure of membrane proteins, on the properties of protein structure, and on the organization of cellular structures; the importance of the history of science in research; and collaborations and competition in research. At the end of the interview, he talks about setting the national science agenda; the role of the scientist in educating the public; gender issues in science; and the impact of the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences on his work.

David Ron was born in Ein Carmel, a kibbutz near Haifa, Israel. The kibbutz provided room and board for the family while Ron's parents were studying at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, his mother chemistry and his father physics. While Ron was still a young child, his parents joined the faculty at the Technion, and the family moved to Haifa, where David mostly grew up. When he was about six his parents took postdocs, and the family, now including David and two sisters, moved to Princeton University. After two years there they spent a year at University of California, San Diego, and then went back to the Technion. When David was in junior high school the family again spent a year in the United States, this time at the University of California, Los Angeles. David chose the mathematics-chemistry-physics track in high school, the most difficult. School was intended to be "a grind"; learning was not an end in itself, simply a means. Family dinner discussions centered on politics; David says there was not much "fun stuff" in his household. He liked to read, especially history; he was not much interested in sports. The family was strongly atheistic, despite the extreme Orthodoxy and Zionism that brought many of his ancestors to Israel from mostly Eastern Europe, so David was not even Bar Mitzvah. After finishing high school at seventeen, David entered medical school. He had to make an arrangement with the army to do his compulsory service after college; this meant promising summer boot camps and five years of service after graduation. He spent part of his third summer working in Avraham Hershko's lab, where he learned about protein degradation. The experience discouraged him from bench science; and he spent the following summers at Hammersmith Hospital in London, where he did rotations in endocrinology, neurology, and hematology. He returned to the Technion for a year, after which he went into the army for five years. He was a medic assigned to the Golan Heights during a war with Lebanon; soldiers there suffered crash injuries, and Ron published a paper on forced bicarbonate infusion as a treatment for renal failure. He then did his residency in internal medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City and decided he wanted to do bench science as well. He chose endocrinology because it afforded him more time for the bench. He accepted a fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital, working in Joel Habener's lab. There Ron became interested in possible genetic regulation of responses to stresses on the endoplasmic reticulum. He has discovered that CHOP (CIEBP homologous protein), which can be a marker of endoplasmic reticulum stresses, is induced in some disease states, like Crohn's disease. He is trying to discover where that information leads him. Ron accepted an assistant professorship at the Skirball Institute for Biomolecular Medicine at New York University, where he continues his research into CHOP and the IRE-1beta gene. He has won a number of awards, including the Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences award and an award from the Leukemia Society of America. He and his wife, who is also a scientist and who works at the Population Center, have found a way to balance their professional lives with their life at home with their son. 

Jane E. Koehler was born in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1953, the third of four sisters. Her father was the son of German-American farmers from Missouri; he was a World War II veteran who was the first in his family to attend college and would later go on to obtain a master's degree and a PhD in soil chemistry. Koehler's mother was of Danish parentage and also grew up in Missouri. She earned her master's degree in food science. Both of Koehler's parents taught at Washington State University during the majority of her childhood. From a young age, she was very interested in medicine, and she credits her sisters with being a considerable influence on her personal ambition and success. Koehler graduated from Vassar College in 1975. She struggled with Hashimoto's thyroiditis during this period, and although she found it hard to adjust to student life, Koehler applied to graduate schools and matriculated into a PhD Program at the University of California, Berkeley. She then decided to earn a master's degree in microbiology instead of a PhD in order to pursue a medical education. Koehler worked as a research associate while she took her MCAT and applied to medical schools. She was eventually accepted into the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, where she received an MD in 1984, and met her husband, Stephen X. Nahm. The couple moved to California so that Koehler could begin internship rotations at the University of California, San Francisco. It was there that she became much more interested in the study of infectious diseases. In 1984 Koehler was awarded an infectious disease fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco, where she researched the causative agents of bacillary angiomatosis in Dr. Richard S. Stephens' lab and later in Nina Agabian's lab. In 1988 Koehler began working at the University of California, San Francisco, as a Clinical Instructor of Medicine in the Infectious Diseases Department. She rose through the ranks from Research Microbiologist to Assistant Professor and was eventually appointed Associate Professor of Medicine in Residence in the Infectious Diseases Department. Her current research focuses on tracing the complex life cycle of Bartonella and its role in the frequent infection of immunocompromised patients. Throughout her oral history Koehler points out the many obstacles that women face when undertaking a professional career, and she stresses the importance of positive female mentors. She has won several awards including the American Medical Women's Association Scholarship Achievement Citation, the ICAAC Young Investigator Award, the Pierre Richard Dick-Virbac Fondation First International Award and a Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences award.

Maureen J. Charron has spent most of her life in New York City, New York. She was born on Long Island but grew up in Queens. The elder of two sisters born to parents of Italian and French Canadian descent, she attended parochial schools. She found that her all-girls high school, Mary Louis Academy, provided an excellent education as well as the security of a disciplined approach to education for women. She had always liked science and took as many classes as she could. The first in her family to go to college, she had to persuade her parents that further education was necessary for her; this she did at first by saying she wanted to be a doctor. For college she selected Queens College, then considered the "jewel" of the City University of New York system. When she decided she liked research and did not want to be a doctor, she accepted a position in the lab of Corinne Michels, at Queens College again, where, ironically, she worked on maltose fermentation genes of yeast for beer. She was intrigued to find that the ends of chromosomes appeared to be "hot spots" for recombinant DNA; eventually she developed this into her research into diabetes. Her PhD work at Queens went very well, and Charron had a number of offers from Ivy League colleges for postdoc work. She ended up taking a postdoc at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, where she worked in Harvey Lodish's lab, studying glucose transporters. Lodish required incomers to bring their own grants, so Charron acquired a new skill, obtaining a Jane Coffin Childs award. She loved the atmosphere at the Whitehead, the extravagant facilities, and Lodish's enthusiasm for any and all science; and she stuck to her own timeline of three years for a postdoc before beginning her job search. Charron accepted an offer from Albert Einstein College of Medicine. One of Einstein's main attractions for Charron was its founding principle that the school would not discriminate against women or on other grounds except scholarship. It was also important that the school had a diabetes lab already established, funded by the National Institutes of Health, and a transgenic mouse facility. In addition, Einstein offered a dynamic atmosphere, creatively-thinking scholars, and a location close to her family and friends. Charron has won a number of awards, including the Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences award, and is now an associate professor at Einstein. Charron finishes her interview with discussions of ethics in science and her experiences with unethical students; the difficulties women have in science, especially as they progress to faculty; tenure; grant writing; competition and collaboration; lab management and budgeting; and her professional and personal goals. She loves science, though she says she has Lodish's degree of enthusiasm for a more limited number of topics. 

Stewart H. Shuman was born in Queens, New York; his only sibling is a brother, who is ten years older. His family loosely observed religious strictures, including keeping kosher, because his maternal grandmother insisted upon it, but when Shuman's grandmother died the practices died away. When Shuman began Hebrew School in preparation for his Bar Mitzvah, he became briefly entranced by the Talmud, but he soon lost interest in religion. His mother attempted to inculcate cultural values by taking him to the library, to museums, and to the opera. He still loves to read but is only just learning to appreciate opera. He has loved both math and science from an early age. He attended a high school that offered to select students a very intensive, advanced program in the sciences; there he was in a very exciting biology class, taught by an excellent teacher whom he still remembers. He also took a college-level class while still in high school. During summers he attended a National Science Foundation program that he eventually was invited to teach as well. He graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Wesleyan University and completed his MD/PhD degree at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. He began his career at Massachusetts General Hospital; then he moved to the Laboratory of Viral Diseases at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). From there he joined Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, where he remains today. He has won awards from the American Cancer Society as well as the Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences grant. He has published many articles about his work with capping enzyme in vaccinia virus and covalent catalysis. 

Fenyong Liu was born and raised in Guangzhou, China during the Cultural Revolution. Early on in life he knew that he wanted to pursue science as his career, learning English during junior high school and having influential teachers while attending high school in Guangzhou. After passing the university entrance examinations, Liu matriculated at the prestigious University of Science and Technology of China. Initially he decided to pursue physics, but then transferred to the biology program after two years of study. Encouraged by his professors, Liu decided to attend graduate school in the United States at the University of Chicago, briefly spending time in the Medical School before transferring into the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology program, where he worked with Richard Roller and Bernard Roizman. While his initial research focused on the biochemistry of viral DNA replication, Liu focused in the last years of his doctoral study on the genetics of the herpes virus capsid protein; his research resulted in a patent and created intense interest from the pharmaceutical industry. He followed up his graduate research with postdoctoral positions at Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Research Institute and Yale University, where he worked with Sidney Altman on the inhibition of antiviral gene expression. Liu discusses his wife (also a scientist) and family as well as balancing family commitments and career, especially during the period when he became a principal investigator at University of California, Berkeley. His current research in molecular biology and virology has focused on cytomegalovirus infection; during the interview he describes his typical workday and both his laboratory management style as well as the multiple roles he plays as a principal investigator. The interview concludes with Liu's reflections on his various scientific mentors and on his wife's career trajectory and the difficulties of being a woman in science. Liu concludes his interview by reflecting on his various scientific mentors. 

Joseph P. Dougherty begins his oral history with a discussion of his youth in various parts of New York City and raises such topics as his family's religion and his father's experiences with the local unions. Dougherty received an education at a liberal Catholic high school where he became involved in the sciences. He attended New York University (NYU) for his undergraduate degree, which he felt was academically interesting because of the opportunity to pursue all manner of mathematics and science. Dougherty lived in and experienced Greenwich Village, a broad cultural education, though while at NYU, Dougherty became interested in genetic manipulations and gene therapy. (He also became a competitive street handball player in New York City during his undergraduate years. ) Before pursuing graduate research, Dougherty worked as a laboratory technician with Arnold M. Katz and Munekazu Shigekawa at Mount Sinai Hospital. He undertook his graduate work at Yale University with Peter Lengyel in the biophysics department; because of his laboratory experiences at Mount Sinai, he was an accomplished researcher when he began his PhD work at Yale. Following the completion of his PhD , Dougherty pursued post-doctoral research with Pierre Chambon in Strasbourg, France and subsequently with Howard Temin at the University of Wisconsin. The two very different post-doctoral experiences allowed Dougherty the opportunity to discuss funding and science in different countries and different types of academic institutions. Throughout the interview Dougherty talks openly about issues related to funding and his persistent interest in moving to France, and, additionally, the duty of the scientist to educate people.