William S. Talbot grew up in Gainesville, Florida, enjoying nature, playing outside, and playing sports (for a time, an offensive guard and a nose tackle in football). His father was an oral surgeon who did a stint in the US Navy; his mother received a master's degree in education and, later in life, worked in property management. Although he did not appreciate it at the time, growing up in a university town provided Talbot with what he considered a great education and access to several influential teachers. In an advanced biology course Talbot had the opportunity to develop his own science fair project, which brought him into the lab of Edward Wakeland to work on the nature and extent of variation in wild mouse populations. Talbot decided to continue working with Wakeland as an undergraduate at the University of Florida, Gainesville, where he also broadened his intellectual horizons through studies in classes on the history of science. After completing his degree at Gainesville, he moved on to graduate studies at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, working with David S. Hogness in developmental genetics on the hormonal control of metamorphosis in Drosophila, and then on to a postdoctoral position with Charles B. Kimmel at the University of Oregon mapping the zebrafish genome and characterizing mutations. From Oregon he returned to the east coast, accepting a position at the Skirball Institute at New York University, where he researched the genes involved in early tissue development of zebrafish and began collaborating with Alexander F. Schier. Soon after, though, Talbot decided to return to Stanford, working in vertebrate developmental biology, that is, at the genes involved in axis formation, tissue differentiation, and myelin formation. At the end of the interview, Talbot discusses patents; his reasons for becoming a principal investigator; collaboration and competition in science; setting the national scientific agenda; the privatization of scientific research; and his transition to studying myelin formation.
Mark Winey was born in Chicago, Illinois, where his father was finishing a Master's degree in chemistry at the University of Chicago. Some months later the family moved back to the suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, near where both parents had grown up. Mark was followed by two sisters. The elder Winey finished a PhD in chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, and has worked on the bench at a research laboratory ever since. Mark's mother was at home with her children until they were established in school, at which time she began teaching English in the high school district where Mark and his sisters went to school. She also obtained a degree in counseling, and Mark likes to laugh that she practiced on the kids. For the most part, the family had a good upper-middle-class life in Bucks County, attending the local public schools and being active in their Presbyterian church. Mark's initial interest in genetics, however, resulted from his younger sister's galactosemia; she was very ill as an infant, and she was eventually sent to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), where the uncommon genetic trait was diagnosed. CHOP was one of few places where this diagnosis could have been made. When he was in high school Mark, who had always been determined to be a scientist, took many science classes, which he thinks were excellent, and a number of liberal arts classes that he liked as well. His ninth-grade biology teacher cemented his determination to go into biology. During high school he also began his enduring love of the outdoors, spending much time climbing, camping, and hiking; he even held a part-time job at an outdoor-equipment store. These two interests combined in Syracuse University, where he could major in biology, but where SUNY Stony Brook also had its forestry school. Soon, though, he settled on just biology, working on blue-green algae in James Smith's laboratory. A class in microbiology taught by Ernest Hemphill convinced him that yeast was his research subject, and he maintains that love. Winey met his future wife at Syracuse and developed many friendships there as well. Yeast took him to graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, where he worked with Michael Culbertson. His love for yeast he explains as having three reasons: it has good genetics; it is a good teaching medium; and it has applications to the study of human disease. For his postdoctoral work he and his by-then wife, Mary Darlington, went to the University of Washington, where he worked in the Breck Byers laboratory, studying centrosomes, screening for mutations that affect spindle pole body duplications. From Byers' lab he accepted a faculty position at the University of Colorado, taking his work with him. There he continues to do research on MPS1, MPS2, and NDC1; to write grants; to recruit graduate students; teach; and to write papers. He also must balance his work with his wife and three children, and they continue their outdoor activities.
Rebecca Rimel begins this brief interview with a discussion of the circumstances that led to the formation by The Pew Charitable Trusts of the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences. She discusses the roles of the Board and the Advisory Committee in determining the mission and aims of the Program, then turns her attention to evolutionary changes that have taken place in the Program over the course of its first five years. After describing the activities and expectations of the Pew Scholars, the interview concludes with Pew's plans for Scholars Programs in areas other than the biomedical sciences.
Jonathon Howard was born in Sydney, Australia. The oldest of four children, he grew up in a suburb of Sydney. He lived near Ku-Ring-Gai National Park, where he loved to hike, camp, and fish. He also played cricket and soccer and surfed. His parents were both architects until his father became a successful landscape architect and his mother a teacher of architecture. None of his siblings finished high school, and Howard disliked school intensely—except for mathematics—playing truant for much of his time there. But along came William Eason, who had been headmaster at Ku-Ring-Gai Chase High School before Howard entered. Eason founded International School, to which Howard transferred and in which he throve. From International School Howard went to Australian National University, obtaining his BSc in mathematics in 1979. He lost interest in mathematics and became interested in physics and neurobiology for graduate work. He obtained his PhD from Australian National University in 1983. He then took a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Bristol in Bristol, England. Sensing a lack of common interest with co-workers there and not liking the weather, he took a postdoc at the University of California at San Francisco, where he worked in Albert James Hudspeth's lab. He found UCSF's intellectual climate stimulating and exciting. He also met his wife, Karla M. Neugebauer, there. Howard became interested in both vision and hearing, studying first photoreceptors and then hair cells. He accepted an assistant professorship at the University of Washington, which he thought would be a better place to continue his research on kinesin and myosin. He remains there today, attempting to balance his construction of his own tools, his teaching, his thinking, his research, and his life with wife and young daughter. He has won many awards, including the Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences award, and he has many publications to his credit.
David A. Brenner grew up in Queens, New York, the oldest of three children. His father worked in the family business, a ladies’ clothing store; his mother was a housewife until her children were grown, at which time she went into real estate. Brenner was bar mitzvah, but he had no attraction to religion. He was always interested in the sciences.
For Brenner the sciences meant medicine, and he chose Yale University as a good school for biology. He found chemistry static and dull, but biology was burgeoning. After his junior year, Brenner spent a year on a research ship, working for Edward Thorndike of the Lamont Geological Observatory, and becoming interested in marine biology. Back at Yale he reverted to biology, working in Joseph Bloomer’s lab and winning an award for his outstanding thesis.
Only two medical schools required a thesis of students, and wanting to continue to do research, Brenner chose Yale. He continued working in Bloomer’s lab, studying protoporphyria in the Liver Study Unit. He took his two years of classes and then went back to the lab. He worked on variegate porphyria, writing a thesis that was published in New England Journal of Medicine. Brenner and his wife, who had also been a medical student at Yale, then went to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for three years. He wanted to learn molecular biology, so he spent three years in Daniel Camerini-Otero’s lab, while his wife did rheumatology.
Brenner next took a job at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). He worked for a year in clinical gastroenterology on liver diseases. He set up his lab and began his study of ferrochelatase. Mario Chojkier persuaded Brenner to join his molecular biology knowledge with Chojkier’s biochemical knowledge in a study of collagen. Brenner also joined the staff of the Veterans Administration Medical Center.
At the end of the 1990 interview, Brenner explains his title and its connection to tenure; his lab management style; competition and collaboration; and his winning of the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences award.
He starts the 2009 interview by reviewing his early years in college and affirming his career decisions. He expresses joy in the richness of biology; he appreciates the insights his clinical experience gives him in his research. He also reminisces about his long lab hours and his residency. He remembers life in the NIH labs and discusses moonlighting to keep up his clinical skills while he did his postdoc. And he talks about the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences award and the Pew annual meetings.
After several years Brenner moved to the University of North Carolina (UNC), becoming a full professor and continuing his work on ferrochelatase and fibrosis in cirrhosis. He was named director of the university’s Center for Digestive Diseases and Nutrition and became Editor-in-Chief of Gastroenterology. He commanded more lab space and more equipment. He found UNC’s intellectual approach similar to those of UCSD and Yale. North Carolina, furthermore, had a welcoming lab community and was a good place to establish his family life (and, as Brenner notes, there was also Atlantic Coast Conference basketball, and the sky was always Carolina blue). His children had time to grow up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, before Brenner moved to Columbia University, where he became Samuel Bard Professor and Chairman of the Department of Medicine. After his five years as Editor of Gastroenterology Brenner was lured back to San Diego; there he became Vice Chairman for Health Services and Dean.
At the end of the interview he talks about various universities; his administrative duties; and his lack of time for the lab. He explains his hope to affiliate the children’s hospital to the UCSD system, tells some visa stories about his foreign postdocs, and talks more about grant writing and his grants. He laughs when asked how he has balanced his home life and work life, saying he never did balance them and mentions that his children are now grown, his daughter in medical school at Columbia, and his son, a graduate of University of Georgia, in business. They all get together, however, at the Atlantic Coast Conference basketball championships, of course rooting for the Tar Heels.
James L. Sherley was born in Memphis, Tennessee, one of five children. His parents had been sharecroppers in a small town in Mississippi, but they moved to the Memphis area so that Sherley's father could become a worker in concrete; he worked his way up to supervisor and is now safety officer for DuPont. He also became a Baptist minister at about the time James was leaving for college. Sherley's mother's family gradually settled in the neighborhood, too, but Sherley's father's family stayed in Mississippi. As far back as he can remember, Sherley wanted to be a scientist; and he and one of his brothers were always performing experiments (making gunpowder, for example) in the backyard. In junior high school he decided he wanted to be a microbiologist. He attended a high school for college-bound students, to which he had to be bused; there an AP biology class solidified his desire to be a microbiologist and to go to Harvard. Some of his teachers encouraged him to apply elsewhere as well, but he was determined to go to Harvard. He had always done well in school, too; but though he was valedictorian of his high school, the administration thought it inappropriate that he give the commencement address (he is African-American) and asked the salutatorian (she is Caucasian) to do so instead.
At Harvard Sherley joined Alfred Loeblich's laboratory, working at first with algae. He went to Mark Ptashne's lab when Loeblich moved to the University of Houston. There he learned microbiology, worked on lambda phage, and took a course in tumor repression that pushed him into the study of cancer. He was advised that fully to realize his ambition to study cancer he should get an MD/PhD, so, although it was late in his undergraduate career, he became pre-med and eventually was accepted for the MD/PhD program at Johns Hopkins University, where he began his study of thymidine kinase in Thomas J. Kelly's lab. After receiving his MD and PhD, he took a postdoc at Princeton University, working in Arnold Levine's lab. His studies included T antigen and p53 antioncogene. His association with Levine's lab was not harmonious, and he accepted an associate membership in the Department of Molecular Oncology at the Fox Chase Cancer Center, where he stayed for seven years before running out of funding. From there he moved to Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he is an assistant professor in the Division of Bioengineering and Environmental Health today.
Sherley is married to Marion Cunningham and has two young daughters. He continues to publish his work; to balance family life and work; and to worship God.
Seung K. Kim was born in Seoul, South Korea, the oldest of three boys. His father had escaped North Korea at the beginning of the Korean Conflict, and he eventually became a doctor. His mother was from a large family in Seoul; she was a pharmacist, owning her own pharmacy. When Kim was about two his father took a job in a hospital in Johnson City, New York; he then accepted a position at the University of Pennsylvania. The family arrived when Kim was about three. They were intending to return to South Korea when Kim's father finished his radiology training, but visa uncertainty due to the Vietnam War caused them to decide to stay here. Kim began school in a Roman Catholic school in Philadelphia, but the family moved back to Johnson City when Kim was in second grade. They spent two years there before moving to Vestal, a suburb of Binghamton. Kim was, he says, obsessed with baseball, playing and reading about it. He also began to go fishing with his father, who had liked to fish in Korea. Fishing also provided Kim with an experiment for his seventh-grade science class. His teacher for that class was influential, by taking Kim seriously and by encouraging him. Mr. Jason, the science teacher, even told Kim's father that he thought Kim could go to Harvard, which was, as Kim says, "the Everest" of colleges in his father's mind. A friend who went to Phillips Exeter Academy told Kim about the school at Thanksgiving, and Kim spent the rest of the school year persuading his parents to send him there and then having to go through the application process. He was accepted and began three of his happiest years when he was a sophomore. He had finally found an academic atmosphere that suited and challenged him, and he loved it. He especially loved math and his math teachers, but he also began to discover experimentation, one summer designing for himself a chemistry experiment to work on when he began school in the fall. He talks here about a number of his teachers who were excellent and whom he still remembers by name. He entered Harvard University, which he found large, anonymous, and somewhat disappointing after Exeter, until he had a biochemistry class taught by Mark Ptashne, Tom Maniatis, and Douglas Melton. Here Kim talks about his college laboratory experience with Richard Goldstein; the process of writing; and his summer tour-guide job in Paris, a job that showed him how much he liked to lecture. He describes his tutelage under James Rheinwald at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; his exposure to the literature and history of his field of research; and his decision to pursue a career in medicine. Kim applied to medical school and became discouraged by the interview process. Urged by Goldstein, he accepted a late interview invitation from Stanford University, where he met Stanley Cohen. He found California beautiful and decided to attend Stanford. There he entered the MD/PhD program and worked in Dale Kaiser's biochemistry laboratory studying cell signaling during development. He discusses his experiences in the MD/PhD program at Stanford; his interest in oncology; and his residency at Brigham and Women's Hospital. On his first day as an intern he met the woman who became his wife. He accepted a fellowship at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; and then he did a postdoc on pancreas development in Douglas Melton's lab. He goes into great detail about his wife's career, also in medicine. Next he talks about his collaboration with Matthias Hebrok and his research on pancreas development. He accepted a position at Stanford University in developmental biology and set up his lab. He explains his laboratory management style and his role in the laboratory and goes on to talk about his administrative duties; the personnel make-up of his lab; and how he sets the research agenda of his laboratory. He continues with a discussion of his current research using three model systems to study pancreas development and function and insulin production; the practical applications of his research; the issue of patents; balancing family and career; the percentage of women and minorities as graduate students and principal investigators; and the process of writing journal articles. Kim concludes his interview with lessons he has learned; his reasons for becoming a principal investigator; and the qualities of a good scientist.
Arul M. Chinnaiyan was born near Cleveland, Ohio, but spent his first years in a suburb of Chicago, Illinois, the elder of two sons whose parents came from India. His father was an electrical engineer, his mother a housewife. When Chinnaiyan was about thirteen the family moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where his father had taken a job. Chinnaiyan had always liked the sciences, but his high school biology teacher made the subject come alive. He was also interested in computers and sports, especially tennis, playing on his high school team. By his junior year in high school, Chinnaiyan says he knew he wanted to study molecular biology or cell biology. Because it was a good school for biology; because it was close to home; because his father was ill with diabetes; and because the tuition was manageable, Chinnaiyan decided to attend the University of Michigan. He worked in Stephen Weiss's lab during summers and part time during the school year. There he worked on proteases in neutrophils with his mentor. Chinnaiyan's father died while Chinnaiyan was in college; this helped him decide to enter the Medical Scientist Training Program at University of Michigan to obtain an MD/PhD. He began in Jeffrey Bonadio's lab, where he learned molecular biology, but he became fascinated by apoptosis and joined Vishva Dixit's lab at a time when the field of apoptosis was growing rapidly. From his research came the discovery of FADD, as well as twenty-one publications, some of which he had to hand deliver in order to beat his competitors. After three years of research, Peter Ward persuaded him to complete his residency in clinical pathology at the University of Michigan. He established his lab and became interested in studying biomarkers for prostate cancer. He started a DNA microarray facility too. Chinnaiyan remained at Michigan as an assistant professor in pathology and urology. He established the Michigan Center for Translational Pathology. He had not been trained to write grants, but he made up for lost time, winning many awards and honors and becoming a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. At the end of the interview he talks about learning to write grants and discusses his application for the Pew Scholars in the Medical Sciences award. He describes how he recruits students and postdocs; talks about publishing; and talks about lab time. He concludes his interview with thanks to his mother, who helped make all his work possible.
David E. Levy was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, and grew up in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, one of two children. His father was a chemist, his mother a classicist; both had been living in California but were assigned to Oak Ridge National Laboratory by the federal government, his father to work on the Manhattan Project, his mother for the Tennessee Valley Authority. Employees' families could attend an annual open house at the Laboratory, but otherwise David's father did not discuss his work. Even so, David remembers always having been interested in science; he had chemistry kits, he built rockets, he made his own chemicals for his dark room, and he observed the back-yard animals. In grade school once when pupils were asked to write about what they wanted to be when they grew up, David wrote about being a scientist, though he says he doubts that he would have known what that meant. David did not investigate colleges, but entered the University of Tennessee. Interested in psychology, he took premed classes but soon changed to biology; he had almost a minor in chemistry, which he also liked. There were no experimentation classes, though they did "practicals." After graduation, still unsure what he wanted to do, David took a job at the Laboratory in the Molecular Anatomy Program (MAP), a kind of independent project established by Norman Anderson. When MAP was closed down, David worked for a year in immunologist Alan Solomon's lab at the University of Tennessee's Memorial Research Center. He had already taken some seminars at the Oak Ridge Extension branch of the University of Tennessee, and he had written two papers. During this time he realized that he wanted to be a scientist, that he was excited by the confluence of chemistry and biology. Hence, graduate school. He was accepted at California Institute of Technology, where his father had studied, and began his research into immunology in William Dreyer's lab. Not long after he switched to Richard Lerner's lab at Scripps Research Institute, where he studied retroviruses. Upon finishing his PhD he accepted a postdoc at Rockefeller University offered by James Darnell, who was working on the development of organ systems. David remains an adjunct faculty member in the Laboratory of Molecular Cell Biology there; and he has added an assistant professorship at New York University, the Sackler Institute for Graduate Biomedical Sciences, and in the School of Medicine Department of Pathology, where he is now an associate professor. He established his lab to continue his research into gene expression in the liver system, hoping to discover how it is that during development different genes get turned on in different tissues; for him that is the basic question. He devotes much of the end of the interview to comparing creative thinking, independence, and funding as found at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, and Scripps Research Institute; to comparing the Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences award with the National Institutes of Health grants; and to his conception of the ideal department or laboratory.
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.
Earl K. Miller was born and raised in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, one of two siblings—the other being his identical twin. His mother was a homemaker; his father an accountant. As a child, Miller was interested in science and continuously performed well in science classes in school. He entered Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, originally pursuing a degree in biology (and undertaking pre-medical coursework). After taking advice to do research in order to better his chances of getting into medical school, Miller volunteered to work in Richard M. Vardaris's psychology lab for his senior thesis. Vardaris was doing work on memory in the hippocampus, and, as Miller noted, once he started doing experiments and collecting neurophysiology data, he "fell in love" with research; Miller switched his major to psychology so that Vardaris could be his advisor. He matriculated at Princeton University for his graduate studies, ultimately working in the laboratory of Charles G. Gross studying the visual cortex, though his research in neuroscience evolved from object recognition to cognition; during this time Miller met his wife, a psychologist who later worked for the American Psychological Association. From Princeton Miller undertook postdoctoral work with Robert Desimone at the National Institutes of Health, transitioning from studying vision to studying the cognitive operations that operate on sensory information; he had a number of publications in top tier journals come out of this work. He moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts upon accepting a position at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; he focused his lab on cognitive neuroscience and executive brain control. The remainder of the interview with Miller focuses on what he believes are the practical applications of his research; the future of his research in cross-translational neurophysiology (from gene to system level); and his professional responsibilities. The interview concludes with his thoughts on the peer-review process; the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences; competition and collaboration in science; experimenting on living animals; and the privatization of scientific research.
K. Christopher Garcia grew up in Falls Church, Virginia, the youngest of three children. His Spanish father was an anesthesiologist and his American mother an artist and housewife. Garcia always liked science, especially animals, and collected reptiles as pets. He attended an Episcopal school at first, but then went to a good public high school. There he began to get more serious about his studies and took an interest in science. He was also a very competitive junior tennis player and that was a major aspect of his life. Garcia felt he had little guidance in choosing a college, but he wanted one with good science and a good tennis team; he chose Tulane University. After his first year there, he abandoned his goal of succeeding in a Division I college tennis team, and so quit the team and took up rugby. While always doing well in school without pushing himself, he had never been especially studious until he broke his neck while playing rugby in his sophomore year; during his recovery he became very serious about excelling academically. In addition, a complicating blood clot made him aware of the importance of physical fitness. Already planning to major in biochemistry, as it was both interesting and challenging, Garcia found a physical chemistry class taught by Eugene Hamori inspirational. Hamori was a world-class fencer from Hungary, which only added to his inspiring qualities. Garcia next spent a year in Katherine Kennedy's pharmacology lab at George Washington University, where he worked on hypoxia in tumor cells. He went from there to Johns Hopkins University to work on lymphocyte adhesion receptors. He considers James Hildreth, who was a postdoc there at the time, to have been a very influential mentor in steering his interests into protein biochemistry. After taking Cecil Robinson's bio-organic chemistry class Garcia switched departments to biophysics and entered L. Mario Amzel's lab to focus on the structures of antibodies. As part of his thesis, he spent some months in Stephen Desiderio's lab to clone and sequence antibodies. These experiences, together with reading a paper from Mark Davis at Stanford on the cloning of the T cell receptor, led Garcia to take on the challenge of determining the TCR structure and how it sees its ligands. When he had finished his PhD, Garcia took his interest in receptors to a postdoc at Genentech, where he worked with David Goeddel, Tony Kossiakoff, and Jim Wells to learn aspects of recombinant protein expression and protein engineerin. He found Genentech's scientists very impressive, the organization and structure both academic and businesslike. After two years he accepted another postdoc at Scripps Research Institute, working in Ian Wilson's lab, because he felt that solving the structure of the TCR was a 'holy grail' for the field, and would require a great deal of financial and infrastructural support, which Ian Wilson provided. During his stay at Scripps he and his colleagues published a landmark paper on the first TCR and TCR/MHC structure in Science. Shortly following that work, he accepted an assistant professorship at Stanford University. At the end of the interview Garcia discusses his lab setup and his lab's work on cytokines through gp130. He continues with a description of the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences award and their annual meetings; and finishes by explaining how he obtained his Howard Hughes Medical Investigator award and how he has been using the two awards.
Marnie E. Halpern grew up in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Her family was Jewish and had left Europe shortly before World War II. As she says, the Holocaust was not talked about much in the family, but it was always there. Her father was a doctor; her mother, who had a master's degree in bacteriology, stayed home with the six children until they were in school. The family lived in the house where her father's practice was located, and Halpern often helped him. She was always "a bit of a brain" and did well in school, moving ahead a year or two. Several members of her family had a great influence on her. Halpern attended McMaster University, which was in her hometown, and really did not enjoy school until her last year there. After her first year she decided to take a year to "find herself" and travelled to Europe, India, and the Middle East. She then went to Guatemala. When she returned she restarted a friendship with the man who later became her husband. They spent some time together in Europe, and then he influenced her to go back to school and to work hard. She became interested in biology in her third year, and in her fourth year she worked really hard and did very well. Becoming interested in molecular biology, she decided to do a master's degree in James Smiley's lab, still at McMaster. She had become fascinated by Drosophila, and she invited Gary Struhl to give a talk at McMaster. She attended a conference on Drosophila at Asilomar, where she met a number of big-name scientists and felt star-struck at seeing Barbara McClintock. She decided to pursue her PhD at Yale, where she joined the Spyros Artavanis-Tsakonas lab; she describes her relationship with Artvanis-Tsakonas. Halpern gained recognition in the biology department and joined the Haig Keshishian lab to characterize the neuromuscular system in larval Drosophila, discussing her doctoral work involving dye filling and identifying motor neurons. A class at Woods Hole helped her redefine her view of science. She then married and had her first child. She talked about her work on connectivity in the larval neuromuscular system. After meeting Charles Kimmel at a neuroscience conference, her interest in zebrafish expanded. She visited the Kimmels, who spin their own wool and whittle, in Oregon for a postdoc interview and entered Charles's lab. Halpern's work on the no tail mutant led her to the Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard lab in Germany. Here she talks about her experiments in the Nüsslein-Volhard lab; living and working in Germany; and her relationship with Nüsslein-Volhard. Next Halpern accepted a position at Carnegie Institution of Washington. Here she discusses how the Carnegie differs from other scientific institutions; Don Brown's recruitment of her; her teaching responsibilities; students she has helped to mentor; ethnic and sexual makeup of students at Johns Hopkins University; sexism in science; the impact of the Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences award on Halpern's science; and the grant-writing process. Halpern goes on to explain her relative financial security at the Carnegie; collegiality at the Carnegie; her concerns over the quality of her science; the process of publishing; her lab makeup and mentoring style; her administrative responsibilities; and her travel commitments. She talks about a typical workday and expresses her continuing interest in benchwork. This leads to the topic of balancing work life with family life in a two-professional family. The inflexibility of the science system for women informs Halpern's explanation for the lack of female PIs. She decries perceived differences in the socialization of men and women and emphasizes the importance of having female role models in science. She returns to a discussion of her current work on molecular asymmetry in the brains of zebrafish, which discussion segues into possible applications of Halpern's research. She tells us the genesis of her current research and gives credit to serendipity in science. Halpern's receptivity to cultivating ties with biotechnology companies demonstrates her view of patents, which she discusses at greater length. She compares the advantages and disadvantages of competition and collaboration in science, giving an instance of plagiarism as illustrative of ethical issues. Determining who the proper overseers of science are is not a simple proposition. She considers knowing the history of science to be important. Halpern does believe in the inevitability of scientific progress. Halpern assesses her professional and personal achievements; evaluates her future plans; and extols the advantages and downplays the disadvantages of being a scientist. In conclusion, she assesses her oral history.
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."
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.
Patrick Brennwald is the youngest of three children, two boys and a girl. They lived first in Deerfield, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago; when Patrick was about ten, his parents divorced, and a few years later his mother remarried and the family moved to neighboring Northbrook, Illinois. He remembers a regular childhood, in which he and his siblings played usual games with other children in the area. He does not remember any particular scientific attraction, except that he and his brother used to help a friend catch snakes in a nearby field.
He attended Roman Catholic schools through junior high school, and then switched to the public high school. In sixth grade, in his Roman Catholic school, he was taught about evolution, perhaps where his interest in science began. In eighth grade he had a dynamic general science teacher who helped cement Brennwald’s interest. As a sophomore he was in honors chemistry and honors biology classes; his biology teacher bred owls and was an inspiration to Brennwald. In high school he had to come up with a project of his own, so he studied the sex determination mechanism of swordtail fish. He also worked through high school and college, first as a bagger and then as the supervisor of baggers at his local grocery store. The supervisory work was good preparation for managing a lab, he says.
Brennwald chose Carleton College, an excellent liberal arts college in Minnesota, because he wanted a small school with a broad education. He began in biology, but switched to chemistry. He loved the bench and realized that to be a scientist he had to go to graduate school. In addition to taking science classes he also studied philosophy; he spent time arranging parties, hiring bluesmen from Chicago; and he played ultimate Frisbee and softball.
Brennwald entered the University of Illinois for graduate school, working in Jo Ann Wise’s lab. Researching Schizosaccharomyces pombe he cloned four small RNA’s and had two first-author papers. He then took on a project that never quite went where he had hoped, and he ended up finishing his thesis in three weeks so as to go off to a postdoc.
Brennwald accepted a postdoc in Peter Novick’s lab at Yale University to research membrane transport. While at Yale he met the woman who is now his wife, Guendalina Rossi. At the time she was a student in another lab at Yale, studying another aspect of membrane transport. After his fourth year, Brennwald accepted an assistant professorship at Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York City. In his first year there he won the Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences award. He has just been promoted to associate professor. He teaches quite a lot, as he considers it important and he likes it. He sits on committees; he publishes; he writes grants, of course; he manages his lab; but he would like more time for the bench. He is continuing his work on gene family Rho.
As is usual with a busy person who loves his work, Brennwald feels that he could use a few more hours in the day, hours to spend with his family; hours to work at the bench; hours just to read and listen to music. All told, however, he believes he has so far met both his personal and his professional 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.
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.
Ken W. Y. Cho was born in 1956 in Seoul, South Korea; the eldest of three siblings. His father, a shrewd entrepreneur from a very modest background and his mother, the daughter of a well-to-do Korean family, both fled North Korea in 1945, following the Soviet takeover at the end of World War II. Cho's parents would later meet and marry in South Korea and eventually move to Japan when he was only five years old. Cho was therefore forced to learn Japanese rapidly in order to excel in the rigorous educational environment. His childhood interest in the sciences came from watching his favorite cartoon about a scientist. Cho received his B.A. in Chemistry from Grinnell College in 1979. He elected to attend an undergraduate institution in the United States based on the advice of a family friend and because his Korean heritage severely limited his career options in Japan. Once again Cho was forced to rapidly assimilate a new language and culture, and often spent entire nights just completing reading assignments and homework. He matriculated into the Department of Molecular Biology at the University of Pennsylvania, where he conducted his research in Roberto Weinmann's lab at the Wistar Institute, and received his PhD in 1985. Cho began his postdoctoral research at the University of California, Los Angeles in 1986 in Dr. Edward M. De Robertis's Lab, where he became interested in homeobox genes and their role in the development of embryos. He studied these homeobox genes in Drosophila before switching to Xenopus and creating a cDNA library that would shed light on several new developmentally crucial genes; most notably goosecoid genes. In 1991 Cho was appointed assistant professor in the Department of Developmental and Cell Biology at the University of California, Irvine. His research there has encompassed an interest in the regulation of homeobox genes and goosecoid genes in the context of embryological development in vertebrates. Most of his research focuses on the implications of these genes on a specific group of embryological cells in amphibians, a group known as Spemann's Organizer. Throughout his oral history Cho stresses the importance of choosing a career that one truly loves, and he hopes that his children will be happy in whatever career path they choose. He has received several award and grants, including a March of Dimes Basil O'Conner Starter Research Scholar award, an American Cancer Society Junior Faculty Research award, and most notably a Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences grant, which he discusses in the oral history interview.
Judy Lieberman, the second of three daughters, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, but grew up in a New Jersey suburb of New York City. Her father worked for Maidenform Incorporated, and her mother was an elementary school teacher. The three girls had an intensely cultural and educational childhood and family life; they were expected to excel at school and to study science or mathematics or music or art in their spare time. Judy attended summer programs in science at Columbia University and physics at Cornell University. She loved to paint—she still paints—and also attended an art camp at Cornell University one summer. The family celebrated the Jewish holy days with family but were otherwise atheists. Until about tenth grade Judy wanted to be a labor historian, but an excellent biology teacher and the Cornell physics program turned her to science. Although she loved biology in high school, she thought perhaps physics would be more challenging and elegant, so Judy entered Harvard University intending to be a theoretical physicist. She found it an intellectually stimulating discipline, but a solitary one, and she was not sure she had made the right choice. Nevertheless, she decided to pursue a PhD in physics at Rockefeller University, where she studied with Bram Pais. During her second year as a graduate student she married Edward Greer, who had been her betrothed since her last year in college. She then spent three years at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University; from there she moved to Chicago to a job at the Fermilab National Accelerator Laboratory in nearby Batavia, Illinois. Judy was not happy as a physicist and decided to become a doctor. She obtained her MD from a special joint program in Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, during which time she bore her first son. She did her internship at the New England School of Medicine and her residency at Tufts University School of Medicine and then accepted a postdoctoral position at Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Cancer Research. It was during her residency that she bore her second son. After the postdoc she moved to hematology/oncology at Tufts University School of Medicine, where she held several positions until she moved back to Harvard's Center for Blood Research. Because it is difficult to do both science research and clinical practice well Judy has decided to devote her skills to science, specifically immunology, where she believes she can make a greater difference to more people. There she continues to seek an immunotherapy for AIDS as well as for other diseases. Although she says that finding the immunotherapy for AIDS has turned out to be much more difficult than she had originally thought, she does believe that there will be good therapy, if perhaps not a cure. In this oral history Judy discusses, in addition to her work, women in science; ethics; lab management; raising children; translational research; funding.