The Pew Charitable Trusts

Glen A. Evans grew up in San Diego, California, the oldest of three children. His father was an illustrator and later an engineer working on airplanes, his mother a housewife. Both were of Welsh descent. All three of their children obtained degrees from University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and live in the area.

Evans first decided on a science career when he was in high school. An arrangement with UCSD allowed him to take courses at the University even while in high school, and during the summer before he matriculated at UCSD he worked in Renato Dulbecco’s lab. As a result he was able to graduate in just three years, with a major in biology and  enough credits for another major in chemistry, and with two published papers. Medical school beckoned, as did research, so Evans decided to combine the two in the Medical Scientist Training Program offered by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), choosing UCSD. There he was able to continue in Michael G. Rosenfeld’s lab, where he had worked as an undergraduate on activation of hormone genes in the pituitary gland. He finished his MD and his PhD degrees together in just six years, with an internship at Stanford University and a thesis on the regulation of prolactin by TRF.

Evans’ first job was in Philip Leder’s lab at the NIH’s Public Health Service, funded by the U.S. Navy. Finding the lab too large, Evans moved to Jonathan Seidman’s lab to work on histocompatibility antigens. When Leder and Seidman left NIH for Harvard University, taking most of the lab with them, Evans decided to finish his third year and then move to the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. Though he has to fund his own work at the Salk he finds it intellectually free, smaller, and more efficient. He has little difficulty getting grants, except for expensive equipment, like a confocal microscope, so he attempts to share whenever possible. He keeps his lab small, preferring graduate students to postdocs, as he finds them are more curious, willing to stay longer, easier to teach, and willing to experiment. These days Evans is not working at the bench, as his lab is mostly involved with the Human Genome Project, and his time is better spent in administration, but he hopes to get back soon. Evans’ wife has degrees in both mathematics and music and is now a professional musician. The couple has two children, with another on the way. Evans’ interests include skiing; playing piano, organ, and synthesizer; and building furniture. To finish the interview Evans discusses his documentation, a typical day at work, his rolling contract, and his ideal lab environment.