Carolyn E. Machamer was born and grew up in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan, the oldest of three sisters. Her extended family, mother's in California and father's in Pennsylvania, remains close. Her father was a microbiologist who met Carolyn's mother in San Diego, California while he was "collecting soil samples" for an oil company. After they married they moved to Detroit, where Mr. Machamer took a position at Parke, Davis. Although the family had a division of labor typical for that time, all three sisters attended excellent colleges and are very successful. Perhaps subconsciously inspired by her father, Carolyn evinced an early interest in science, particularly biology. She attended Bucknell University, taking all the science courses on offer and finishing with a major in biology. While at Bucknell, she worked on acrosomes in Sally Nyquist's lab Later she worked on BUDR and virus replication at the Michigan Cancer Foundation and then on poliovirus at National Cancer Institute. Machamer took a fellowship at Duke University and began work on SSPE virus. Her PhD was delayed by insufficient technology at the time and by the leavetaking of Hans J. Zweerink, her lab boss. She moved to Peter Cresswell's lab, where she finished her thesis research on major histocompatibility complex antigens. From Duke she went to a postdoc at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. There she worked in John K. Rose's lab, studying M glycoprotein and RNA viruses. Improved technology allowed a breakthrough in her coronavirus research, which she published after moving to Yale University, where she stayed for about a year. From Yale Machamer went to the faculty of Johns Hopkins University, where she remains today. She enjoys teaching in the medical school and directing the journal club, and of course she loves being in the lab. Her current research involves sphingolipids and compartmentalization in the Golgi.
Kathleen L. Collins grew up in Norwell, Massachusetts, a small town near Boston, the second of four children. Her father was a teacher and an assistant principal. Her mother was a nurse until she stayed home with her children; when they were in their teens she became a day care provider. Her parents were devout Roman Catholics, and religion played a large part in Collins' life. Collins attended Norwell's public schools, which she considers very good. She found that she loved chemistry and was strongly influenced by her chemistry teacher. Collins played team sports during her high school years, and she still loves to exercise when she has time. Her parents felt that education was extremely important, and they helped Collins decide to attend Wellesley College. She began in chemistry but discovered biology, particularly molecular biology, and worked in Andrew C. Webb's molecular biology laboratory for her honor's thesis. She also worked on cloning Interleukin-1 at Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and she felt she wanted to be in the lab all the time. Having wanted to be a doctor since she was a little girl, Collins applied to and was accepted at Johns Hopkins University Medical School; she deferred her start date for a year to finish her lab work and ended up being accepted into the Medical Scientist Training Program, which paid her tuition for a joint MD/PhD degree. After her second year there she did a clinical rotation at Guys Hospital in London. She did her doctoral research on DNA synthesis in Thomas Kelly's molecular genetics laboratory, mentored by Mark Wold. Collins matched with Brigham and Women's Hospital of Harvard University for her internship and residency and began the process of board certification in internal medicine. She decided to do a postdoctoral fellowship at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in David Baltimore's lab. Collins describes her work in the Baltimore lab; the broader applications of her postdoctoral research on HIV and cytotoxic T-lymphocytes; and David Baltimore's mentoring style. It happens that she also married at this time. Collins accepted a position at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and set up her lab. She discusses the impact of receiving the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences award; gender issues in science; her administrative duties; writing grants; funding, both general and specific; her role in the lab; advice she would give to would-be scientists; publishing; her teaching duties; and her clinical responsibilities. Collins's current research continues in molecular biology, studying the immune response to HIV infection; she plans future research on the biochemical and biological mechanisms of immune responses and latency during viral infection Her professional goals include helping improve science education, which she regards as lacking, encouraging women to become scientists, and helping set a national science agenda. . Her personal goals emphasize the importance of balancing being with her two young children and husband, a cardiologist, with her work in the lab.
Bruce J. Nicholson was born in Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia, in the middle of a hurricane, but was raised, principally, in Brisbane, the younger of two brothers. His mother was a bank teller until she wed; his father was in insurance sales until he opened his own insurance loss adjuster consultancy. Both of his parents believed in the value of a good education and encouraged both sons to excel, though in whatever direction they chose. Nicholson had a normal childhood, and learned that he had some athleticism (running track for some time). He had a general interest in science and focused on that through school, and he also enjoyed participating in school plays and debate. He matriculated at the local university (staying local was quite common in Australia), the University of Queensland from which he received his baccalaureate in science. He had his first independent research experience in John Mansbridge's laboratory, during which time he learned that he did not have the best experimental "hands"; he went on to be mentored by Burt Zerner, an enzymologist, and Robert L. Blakely, completing an honors thesis on inhibition kinetics in jack bean urease in Zerner's lab. Wanting to do graduate studies in the United States Nicholson applied to several universities, including the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) at which his brother had already matriculated for his graduate studies. He was accepted at Caltech and decided to pursue studies in neurobiology; he was initially assigned to do a rotation with John D. Pettigrew on horseradish peroxidase retroactive tracing of neuronal pathways, but then moved on to work with Jean-Paul Revel researching gap junction proteins. Nicholson remained at Caltech for his postdoctoral studies, and also worked with Norman Davidson; he sequenced connexin 26. From Caltech he moved on to a faculty position at the State University of New York, Buffalo, where he worked with Daniel B. Gros to publish evidence of the existence of more than one gap junction protein. For the remainder of the interview, Nicholson talks about trying to alert the scientific community to the importance of gap junction research; difficulties in crystallizing gap junction proteins; his collaboration with Klaus Willecke, and the generosity of David L. Paul, Eric C. Beyer, and Willecke; and his policies on authorship in collaborations. He ends the interview with a discussion of the benefits of being a Pew scholar; the importance of electrophysiology in gap junction research; using mutagenesis to analyze the structure and function of connexins; the relationship of cell coupling to cell transformation; and the importance of his wife and family.
Marcia B. Goldberg was born in 1957 in Boston, Massachusetts; the second of four siblings. Goldberg grew up in a very egalitarian family environment full of enrichment and educational opportunities. Although the Goldberg family was not very religious her parents still believed strongly in preserving their Jewish traditions and culture. Goldberg credits her interest in the sciences to an outstanding public education system in Brookline, Massachusetts where she grew up; she especially lauds her high school teachers. Goldberg attended Harvard University, where she received a BA in biology in 1979. At Harvard she developed an interest in physiology, an interest that she parlayed into a desire to attend medical school. She matriculated into Harvard Medical School, where she received her MD in 1984. During medical school, Goldberg traveled extensively, funded by an Albert Schweitzer Fellowship; her travel included a service trip to a hospital in Gabon. She also took a year off between her first and second years to explore the many aspects of medicine by working in various non-profit and volunteer positions. Goldberg pursued her residency at Massachusetts General Hospital, where she began conducting research on virulence factors of Vibrio cholerae alongside Dr. Stephen B. Calderwood. She then spent several years studying Shigella flexneri pathogenesis in Philippe J. Sansonetti's lab at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, France. Goldberg's current research is still focused on Shigella flexneri and its modalities of mammalian cell infection and pathogenesis. In 1993 Goldberg was appointed assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She was promoted to associate professor in 1998 only to accept an associate professorship at Harvard Medical School shortly thereafter. Goldberg's current research focuses on the IcsA protein of Shigella flexneri and its role in actin assembly during the bacterium's infection of mammalian host cells. Throughout her oral history Goldberg highlights the gender differences that exist throughout the sciences. Goldberg is a Fulbright Scholar and has won many awards and fellowships including an Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, a fellowship from l'Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, a Melini Award, and a Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences Grant, which she discusses in the oral history.
Samuel L. Pfaff was born and raised in Rochester, Minnesota, a city of, at the time, fifty- to sixty thousand people composed, primarily, of physicians and other Mayo Clinic staff and engineers at International Business Machines (IBM). Dairy farming was a major industry in the area surrounding the city; Pfaff's parents were both raised on farms. His father received a baccalaureate degree in chemistry and went to work for the Mayo Clinic, first as a research technician, but then later on as an administrator of laboratories; his mother was a housewife and then an accountant. Pfaff and his younger brother spent most summers on their grandparents' farm (his brother chose to pursue dairy farming as his vocation) working hard and finding the work very rewarding. He received a public education and felt fortunate to have a fifth grade teacher who recommended him for accelerated academic work and to have a high school biology teacher who suggested he volunteer in a Mayo Clinic laboratory, subsequently contacting Dr. Peter Dyck at Mayo on Pfaff's behalf. In Dyck's neurology lab, Pfaff contributed to Dr. Jeff Yao's research on Wallerian degeneration (the degeneration of nerves after injury); he presented his work at local, state, and, finally, National Science Fairs and because of it also won awards from the U. S. Navy and the state of West Virginia to attend a navy-themed camp in Hawaii and a science camp in West Virginia. He decided to attend a local college for his undergraduate degree, matriculating at Carleton College—a liberal arts school about forty minutes from his home. Dr. Ross Shoger's class in developmental biology proved quite influential and Pfaff chose to pursue a doctoral degree in the sciences over a medical degree. He entered the University of California system for graduate school, studying at Berkeley with Peter Duesberg whose lab focused on how oncogenes function—working with retroviruses, RNA viruses, that could be grown on cells (mostly on chick embryos) which then led to a transformation of the cells and overproliferation—though this was slightly before Duesberg's public claims that the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) was not the cause of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). From Berkeley Pfaff went on to undertake a postdoctoral fellowship in developmental molecular biology with William Taylor at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, and then another with Thomas M. Jessell at Columbia University in New York, New York, working on molecular neurobiology and gene regulation of motor neuron development. At the end of his postdoc he moved on to a position at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, researching gene combinations for regulation of motor neurons in spinal cord development. At the end of the interview Pfaff discusses setting up his laboratory; the impact of the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences award on his work; the role of the scientist in educating the public about science; and his lab management style. He concludes the interview with his thoughts on balancing family life and his career; funding scientific research; educating the public about science; the relationship of politics and science; tenure at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies; and his professional and personal goals.
Rebecca W. Heald grew up in Greenville, a small college town in western Pennsylvania, where she was the youngest of three daughters. Her father was a chemistry professor at Thiel College in Greenville, and her mother was a chemistry instructor there as well. Heald's father's sabbatical took the family to New Zealand when Heald was four; she learned to read there and still loves to read. When she was in junior high school, her father took another sabbatical; this time the family went to Australia. In high school Heald had a very good teacher of calculus and one of English whom she found inspiring. In general she found her science instruction lacking, even in the advanced after-school class she took. She was editor of and photographer for the yearbook in her high school, which included eighth through twelfth grades. Their parents always expected that all three girls would not only go to college, but would also get advanced degrees. As it happens, all three ended up in science fields, Heald's sisters becoming doctors. Heald and her family considered a liberal arts education very important, so she attended Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, where she majored in chemistry. The department was too small to provide lab work until her last year, when she did her first research project in Donna Brown's biochemistry lab. For two years she worked as a research associate for Sarah Hitchcock-DeGregori, helping her set up her lab in New Jersey, doing some real analysis, and publishing some papers. During her time in Brown's lab, Heald heard Bernardo Nadal-Ginard give a talk that influenced her to apply to Harvard University for graduate school. There she worked with Frank McKeon. Here she describes the graduate program at Harvard; McKeon's mentoring style; her work day during graduate school; and the process of writing her thesis. Then she talks about her doctoral work on the dynamics of the nuclear envelope during the cell cycle. She wanted to go to Europe for a different lifestyle and to be farther from her family, so she did her postdoctoral fellowship with Eric Karsenti at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany, where her research focused on spindle formation. She describes Karsenti's mentoring style and the running of the EMBL. At that point Heald decided she wanted to be back in the United States, and on the West Coast, at a larger university, preferably a public school and one that was helpful and supportive of its faculty. She accepted a position at the University of California, Berkeley, and set up her lab. Here she discusses general issues of grant writing; women as principal investigators; gender issues in science; publishing; funding in general, as well as funding in Europe compared with funding in the United States; foreign students; and ethics in science. She talks about her role in the lab; her lab management style; her collaborations; and her teaching and administrative responsibilities. Heald concludes the interview with information about current and planned research on chromosome architecture and mitotic spindle assembly; practical applications of her work; and an explanation of the impact of the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences award on her work. She talks about what she likes most about being a principal investigator and describes a typical work day, finishing with her leisure activities.
Stephen R. J. Salton was born in Cambridge, England, and moved to Australia when he was about seven. When he was about ten, his family moved to Cranford, New Jersey, where his father became chairman of the microbiology department at New York University. Salton attended public schools, and he remembers a good chemistry teacher. He had an early interest in biology, partly because he liked it and partly because his perception of science was influenced by his father's career. Although he felt that there were deficiencies in his pre-college science curriculum, he did have a chance to perform research one summer in the Joel Oppenheim and Martin Nachbar labs at New York University.
Salton entered the University of Pennsylvania to major in biology; there he found stimulating introductory biology and biochemistry courses. He had the opportunity to undertake undergraduate lab work at the Wistar Institute with James England and Michael Halpern who taught him the importance of learning to solve problems at the bench. He decided to enter New York University's MD/PhD program, where he did his PhD research in pharmacology under Michael Shelanski and Lloyd Greene, making antibodies for work on PC12 cell surface glycoprotein response to nerve growth factor v (NGF) treatments. He became enmeshed in the debate over basic science and clinically relevant research and the funding problems raised by that debate.
Though somewhat dissatisfied with medical school coursework, some of that dissatisfaction was mitigated when in his second year he met his future wife, Johanna Baeuerle. Also to his benefit during his schooling, Salton had a good working relationship with Shelanski and Greene who taught him the usefulness of collaborations between labs for meeting funding deadlines and the politics involved in collaborations. He then did a residency and postdoc in the James Roberts lab; balancing professional life and life with his family (Baeuerle and their two children) was sometimes a challenge. Salton had entered the Roberts lab in order to learn molecular biology techniques; he was later able to apply molecular techniques in an attempt to determine the differences between neutrophic growth factors and non-neutrophic growth factors. He found exciting the rapid evolution of molecular biology techniques into a widely accessible tool that can decrease the potential tedium involved in large-scale DNA analysis.
The interview concludes with Salton's discussion of some ideas about how to keep a small lab competitive; the political advantages of publishing in Cell, Nature, or Science; and the insular editorial tendency at the top science journals. He discusses funding; professional opportunities for science PhD 's; and sharing lab facilities; he continues with Mount Sinai's process of recruiting faculty to the new Fishberg Research Center for Neurobiology as illustrative of his own transition from postdoc to assistant professor. He ends with his beliefs about the effect of changes in the health care industry on medical school funding, his opinion of the proposed merging of Mount Sinai Medical School and the New York University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and regret over a lost opportunity to pursue clinically based research under Ira Goldstein.
Joshua M. Kaplan was born in 1960 in Boston, Massachusetts, the youngest of three siblings. His father was an academic physician specializing in hematology, and his mother was a social worker. Raised in a traditionally academic family, Kaplan and his siblings were expected to perform well in school and to pursue higher education. In high school Kaplan began his first research experience working under one of his father's colleagues, studying in vitro red blood cell development. From this point on he was inclined to study science and was interested in laboratory research. Kaplan attended Yale University, where he declared a major in chemistry but would later switch to biochemistry, working in Charles A. Janeway's immunology lab. He also met his wife-to-be, Jennifer S. Haas, there. Kaplan then matriculated into the University of California, San Francisco Medical School, where after his first year of medical training he decided to switch into a doctorate program. Kaplan did his research on cancer-associated src protein with J. Michael Bishop and Harold E. Varmus; he earned his PhD in 1988. He then pursued his research with a postdoctoral fellowship in Dr. H. Robert Horvitz's lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He had a hard time adjusting to the very different environment at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and he credits his time spent there as some of his most difficult yet instructive years. In 1997 Kaplan was appointed assistant professor in the Department of Genetics at Harvard University. In 1997 he left Harvard University and was appointed assistant professor in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California at Berkeley. His current research focuses on mapping signal transduction in the simple nervous system of C. elegans, in an effort to understand the workings of more complex nervous systems. Throughout his oral history Kaplan stresses the difficulty that academic researchers can face when trying to balance family and career, and the importance of putting family first. He has received many awards and honors including the Medical Scientist Training Program, the University of California Chancellor's Fellowship, and a Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences grant, which he discusses in the oral history.
Frances M. Brodsky grew up in Princeton, New Jersey. Her father worked at ETS (Educational Testing Service), a job he began shortly after the company was founded. Her mother, an artist, was a professor at Rutgers and director of the Rutgers Center for Innovative Printmaking. Frances had a privileged and happy childhood and adolescence, complete with good friends, supportive parents, and an excellent education in Princeton, New Jersey, public schools. Brodsky's seventh-grade teacher got her interested in biology. Somehow, with primitive microscopes, the students did microscopy. Brodsky's parents encouraged her interest in science, hoping that she would become a medical doctor. She describes her most exciting high school teachers as those who taught biology, math, French, and Russian. In 1972 Brodsky entered Radcliffe, her mother's alma mater, where she majored in biochemical sciences. Although she cultivated an interest in medicine in deference to her parents, she eventually faced the reality that "I fundamentally was interested in the principle, but not the practice of medicine." Through the biochemistry mentoring program of the Boston-based universities, Brodsky was able to work for three summers in Paul D. Gottlieb's laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Still planning on medical school, Brodsky applied to MD/PhD programs but instead earned a Marshall Fellowship to study at Oxford University. There she worked in Walter F. Bodmer's laboratory, where she began her research on monoclonal antibodies. After earning her PhD, Brodsky attended Harvard Medical School for one semester, but the practice of medicine no longer interested her. Instead she undertook postdoctoral research on clathrin and HLA with Jack L. Strominger and later moved to Stanford University for further postdoctoral research with Peter Parham, her collaborator from her time in Oxford and her partner. Becton Dickinson Immunocytometry Systems then hired Brodsky as a program manager; there she ran her own lab, performing basic research in monoclonal antibodies and cell surface biology. She learned a great deal of cell biology by attending the ASCB Annual Meeting to meet others in the field, ("infiltrating" cell biology, as she thinks of it). After four years in industry, Brodsky made the then-uncommon decision to go back to the academic world, taking a position as assistant professor at University of California, San Francisco, where she is now a full professor. Brodsky discusses the years she spent working at Becton-Dickinson as the ideal way by which to switch from immunology to cell biology while expanding the clathrin antibody research. Throughout the interview Brodsky discusses the changing issues surrounding funding and how that affects her laboratory management, the recent decision by the Board of Regents of the University of California to abolish the affirmative action policy, and the ways scientific collaboration and controversies have affected her. The end of the interview includes a note regarding Brodsky's pseudonymously authored first mystery novel.
Sandra J.F. Degen grew up in the San Fernando Valley, outside of Los Angeles, California, one of four children. Her father was a scientist and her mother a seamstress and homemaker. She says her childhood was an ordinary happy one. She did well in school but did not decide on science as a career until college. There was no religion in the family.
It was expected that the children would go to college, and Sandra chose the University of California, San Diego. Originally she had thought to major in mathematics, but in her second year she decided to switch to chemistry. Sandra entered Russell Doolittle’s lab, where she worked on fibrinogen. She found Doolittle to be very helpful and supportive. She met Jay Degen, who was also a chemistry student, and they married right after college.
On Doolittle’s advice the Degens both entered graduate school at the University of Washington, Sandra in Earl Davie’s lab. Sandra worked under Kazuo Fujikawa for three unsuccessful years before changing projects and completing her PhD thesis on human prothrombin. She compares her confident attitude with her husband’s and points out that both have succeeded.
Edward Reich, who had just left Rockefeller University for Meischer Institut in Basel, Switzerland, recruited both Degens for his lab. They spent two years there, working, writing some papers, and doing some travelling. At that point they were ready to return to the United States and to find jobs, always more complicated with both spouses being scientists.
They were pursued by three institutions, most aggressively by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, where both ultimately accepted assistant professorships in the pediatrics department and where both have progressed through tenure reviews to professorships. Sandra has good funding; her lab is small but growing; her work is going well. She talks about her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter and how difficult it is to find as much time as she would like to spend playing with her. She discusses her lab management philosophy. She explains that she loves her science but that she also enjoys the administrative duties involved and says that in ten years she may want to be doing more of the administration or perhaps something altogether different.
Makoto Kuro-O grew up in Tokyo, the younger of two children. His father was an engineer, providing air conditioning systems for large structures like the Tokyo train stations. His mother went to college but did not work after she married. At an early age Kuro-O decided he liked science. He attended the local elementary and junior high schools, but a national high school. His high school chemistry and physics teachers were enthusiastic about their subjects and helpful to Kuro-O. At this point he contemplated becoming a doctor; he talks about the higher education system in Japan, his experience getting into medical school, his parents' expectations. He entered medical school at University of Tokyo. Because his father had a heart attack during Kuro-O's second year in medical school, Kuro-O became interested in cardiology and describes his first basic laboratory experience. He did his PhD while spending at least half of his time seeing patients. He met Ryozo Nagai and joined his lab at Tokyo University. Here he discusses his funding; Nagai's research interests; publishing articles; and his postdoctoral work in genetics at the National Institute of Neuroscience of Japan on the age-suppressor gene in mice. During his last year of internship Kuro-O met and married his wife. Kuro-O then accepted a position at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. He talks about his move to the United States; setting up his laboratory; funding in general and specifically the impact of the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences on his work; his lab management style; his teaching responsibilities; and his research on the age-suppressor gene. Next Kuro-O discusses a little more of his research on the age-suppressor gene, his current research on the anti-aging protein and renal disease, and practical applications of his research. Kuro-O then moves on to talk about his future research on the functions of the Klotho protein and about his collaborations, tenure at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, his administrative duties, his role in the lab, the running of his laboratory, the process of writing journal articles, and patents. He also describes a typical work day. The interview concludes with Kuro-O's comments on collaborations in science, serendipity in his work, gender and ethnic issues in science, his first impressions of the United States, and a comparison of science in Japan and the United States.
Frank A. Laski was born in Detroit, Michigan; he grew up in Oak Park, a suburb of Detroit until about high-school age, when his family moved to Southfield, another suburb. His father's parents and sisters perished in a concentration camp in WWII; his mother's family in Berlin obtained false papers to survive the war. Laski's father and uncle survived the concentration camp and were sent to Louisville, where Laski's father met and married Eva Marx, who also had moved to Louisville after the war. Laski's parents and his uncle moved to Detroit, where they established a prosperous heating business. Laski has one older brother and a younger sister. He had a happy childhood and liked school. He attended a summer camp each year from an early age and eventually worked at the camp. He discovered in high school that he liked science. He attended the University of Michigan, where he obtained a BS in general studies, a major that allowed him to concentrate on science; he worked in Ethel Noland Jackson's lab as an undergraduate. He became very excited about recombinant DNA and knew that his future lay with genetics. Laski entered Massachusetts Institute of Technology for his PhD He worked there in Phillip A. Sharp's lab, where he learned to clone adenovirus; spliced introns; and eventually passed his oral exams. After receiving his PhD he took a postdoc in Gerald M. Rubin's lab at the University of California at Berkeley, working on the relationship between P elements and germline tissue. He then accepted an assistant professorship at the Department of Biology and at the Molecular Biology Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles, where he remains today. His work encompasses bacteriophage packaging; transfer RNA; Drosophila ovaries; P elements; oogenesis; and genetic mutations in Drosophila.
Frank Costantini grew up in New York City, one of three sons. His father was a chemical engineer, his mother an artist. He was good in math and liked quantitative, objective subjects. He matriculated at Yale University, working on RNase Q in Sidney Altman's lab. For graduate school Costantini chose California Institute of Technology, in part because a girlfriend was going to University of California, Los Angeles. He entered Eric Davidson's lab to work on sea urchins; William Klein, a postdoc, acted as his submentor. The science in Davidson's lab was mostly biochemical and molecular, but Costantini thought it more important to know the "logic behind doing science" than what science the lab did. Costantini still wanted, however, to focus on molecular biology, especially as applied to mammals, so he went into Christopher Graham's lab at University of Oxford. His wife, Elizabeth Lacy, also did a postdoc in Graham's lab. There Costantini worked on deriving embryonic carcinoma cell lines to go into the germ line to make genetically altered mice. At first this did not work, but Costantini showed the possibility of getting into the germ line by injecting DNA directly into the nucleus of an egg, rather than into the cytoplasm. Then a new research field, his result has now become a commonly-used technique. Thinking about another postdoc, this time at Rockefeller University, Costantini was instead persuaded to apply for a job that had come open at Columbia University, and his wife took a job at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Although both are still working on mutations that affect early development, they no longer collaborate. At Columbia Costantini can do whatever he can get funding for. His lab is an exciting place, with much happening. He likes to figure out what can be done with a new and interesting technique rather than try to fit the technique to a specific project. He still works mostly on mammalian development biology and gene regulation. He says that embryonic stem (ES) cells can now enable mutations in all genes, and that his best collaboration is with Elizabeth Robertson and her ES cells work. Costantini concludes his interview by saying that his free time is dominated by his eighteen-month-old son. He also likes to cook and to travel when he can. He still loves the intellectual challenge of science.
Roderick MacKinnon was born in Melrose, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, and grew up in Burlington, an outer suburb of Boston. He is the fourth of seven children. His father had not gone to college, but he picked up computer programming on his own and became a professional programmer. His mother was a substitute teacher as well as homemaker for the seven kids and her husband. MacKinnon was always interested in science, collecting snakes, birds, and other things. Though his parents were observant Roman Catholics, the children attended public schools. After fifth grade MacKinnon went to summer school because they offered a science enrichment program that included giving him a microscope. He loved to look at all kinds of things through that microscope. He remembers his fourth-grade teacher as being good and a high-school science teacher being "inspirational." MacKinnon's first sport was hockey, but after several years he dropped that and turned to gymnastics. He excelled at gymnastics, competing at the state level, being recruited by colleges, and actually considering becoming an Olympic gymnast. Late in his senior year of high school he suddenly realized that he did not want to do gymnastics all his life; luckily he had been in honors classes and his grades were good. He decided to go to the University of Massachusetts in Boston and transfer the next year. He very much enjoyed studying and found that science came easily to him, so he continued his undergraduate work in biochemistry at Brandeis University. He loved the stimulating intellectual climate there. Unsure what he wanted to do after college, MacKinnon entered Tufts University medical school. He felt all along that he really did not want to practice medicine, that it was not science in the sense he wanted. After finishing his residency he quit medicine and took a postdoc in the lab of Christopher Miller, a professor who had known him at Brandeis. He developed an interest in ion channels, and he learned to play the violin. Here he explains how his childhood interest in understanding natural systems, his interest in problem-solving activities, and his ongoing appreciation for mathematics led to his decision to leave medicine. MacKinnon's willingness to teach himself new techniques and the practice of letting an experiment "speak" to him helped him learn from Miller the artificial bilayer system for studying ion channels. Observation is important in MacKinnon's experimental method, he says. He began work on charybdotoxin, an ion channel inhibitor, in the Miller lab. Next he describes the Miller lab's efforts to expression-clone a calcium-activated potassium channel and the mutagenesis work required to identify the Shaker potassium channel pore. He found that the active site of a potassium channel is made up of a linear sequence, and he explains the significance of his discoveries. From there he accepted a position at Harvard Medical School. Deciding to apply a structural biology approach to the study of ion channels, he identified the tetrameric structure of the Shaker potassium channel. Here he talks more about the decision to apply a structural biology approach. He turned down a Howard Hughes Medical Institute position at University of California, San Diego, which he regrets every time he needs to write a new grant proposal. Then his department at Harvard was reorganized. Although things were going well for him at Harvard, he spoke with Torsten Wiesel at a Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences meeting and was invited to Rockefeller University to give a talk. He loved Rockefeller and accepted a position there. Then he suffered the difficulties involved in moving a lab. His lab members did not want to leave Harvard, so he was forced to decrease the size of his lab. Miller warned him about the professional risks involved in focusing on ion channel structure, but MacKinnon likes to "jump in feet first." MacKinnon talks about his teaching and research responsibilities at Rockefeller; about recent molecular genetics work that poses new questions about channel structure; the current state of ion channel structure research; his collaborative work with Gary Yellen on potassium channels; and possible collaborations with other scientists. He tells how he began the biochemistry involved in ion channel research with Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences funding, and he goes on to discuss his National Institutes of Health (NIH) and McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience grants specifically and NIH support of basic research in general. He explains how one must write grants to meet the different criteria of the individual funding agencies, but he remains committed to his area of interest, despite funding pressures. He extols his wife's, Alice Lee MacKinnon's, ability as a crystallographer. He concludes by discussing the importance of being able to learn new material; the differences in individual styles of learning; the dedication required of MacKinnon's lab personnel; and teaching lab personnel how to do science.
Michael A. Farrar was born in Washington, DC, where his father was a chemist for the Bureau of Standards. Farrar's mother, a housewife, was German, and Farrar and his younger brother and sister grew up bilingual. As his father changed jobs, the family moved near to New York City, back to the DC area, and finally to Madison, Wisconsin, where the senior Farrar joined the faculty of the University of Wisconsin. By that time Farrar had begun high school. He liked to read and was interested in physics and astronomy, but not so much in biology. He crewed for his high school team and continued rowing throughout college. Thinking of becoming an astrophysicist, Farrar entered the University of Wisconsin, intending to major in physics and mathematics. At the end of his junior year he attended some lectures given by Oliver Smithies and found them fascinating. In general, he found biology better taught and more interesting at the university, and so he changed his major to biology; during the summers he worked in a chicken lab trying to manipulate genes. Having started the biology program later in his undergraduate career, he decided to stay for a fifth year to complete a senior thesis. During his last semester he was diagnosed with Addison's disease. Farrar decided to attend Washington University in St. Louis for a PhD in immunology. There he began work on interferon receptors in Robert Schreiber's lab; he won the Olin Medical Scientist Foundation Fellowship. He also took up bicycle racing. Taking advice from Schreiber and a number of others, Farrar accepted a postdoc at the University of Washington, working in Roger Perlmutter's lab on Ras signaling and B-cells, as well as developing a novel, chemical-induced dimerization system. He enjoyed new outdoor activities in Seattle, Washington, and continued biking as well. After Farrar had been in Seattle for about four years, Perlmutter moved to Merck and Company, taking most of his lab, including Farrar, with him. There Farrar was able to design his own lab, to interview and recommend for hire the lab staff and technicians, and to buy whatever equipment he wanted. He learned a great deal about setting up and managing a lab from this experience. He was able to continue his previous work there too, but he had to find new athletic activities, this time rock climbing and ballroom dancing. He also met his future wife, a medical student at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. When it was time to look for a job Farrar had an offer from the University of Minnesota, and his wife was able to transfer her residency. At the end of the interview Farrar discusses his continuing work on STAT; the politics of publishing; ethics in science; the increase in administrative duties, with its corresponding decrease in time for bench work; grants in general; the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences award in particular (and its annual meetings); recruiting students and getting his lab going; and patents. He describes how he tries to balance work life with spending time with his two children and his wife. He concludes his interview by discussing his newest work and its implications for human leukemia.
Janko Nikolić-Žugić was born and raised in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, which, at the time, was a relatively open Communist country under Josip Broz Tito. His father was an orthopedic surgeon and his mother was a researcher at the Institute for Cultural Development Studies. Nikolić-Žugić was interested in science from a young age, perusing his parents' extensive library and finding issues in molecular biology and the like quite fascinating. He went to his primary school for eight years before moving into a specialization in the natural sciences in his secondary school (Yugoslavia had a Gymnasium system). At the age of fifteen or so he became a competitive volleyball player, practice for which occupied most of his nights and weekends. While all of his coursework was intense, and while he enjoyed science, Nikolić-Žugić realized that there were no careers for molecular biologists in Yugoslavia, so he decided to enter the medical track to become a physician. He entered the Belgrade University Medical School and undertook his medical studies while still having an interest in the practice and study of science more broadly. He received guidance and advice from Miodrag L. Lukić and Marija Mostarica-Stojković, who studied immunology, to do some scientific laboratory work abroad in the United States. Nikolić-Žugić took this advice and went for a few months over a few summers to work with Henry H. Wortis at Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts; this was Nikolić-Žugić's first laboratory experiences and influenced his decision to leave clinical medicine and pursue a scientific career in the United States. He received a master's of science while still in Belgrade, though his studies were interrupted by the civil war, and then a doctoral degree under Lukić, during which time he completed his compulsory military service, working on T cell development. After meeting and marrying his wife, he went on to a postdoctoral position in Michael J. Bevan's lab at the University of California, San Diego studying intrathymic T cells, and then accepted a position at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, where he began his research on specificity in self-peptide selection by T cell receptors. Throughout the interview Nikolić-Žugić discusses his views on Yugoslavia, its culture, its educational system, its political structure, and the state of the country after the various social and political upheavals. In addition, at the end of the interview he discusses his experimental method; his wife's work as a flow cytometry operator in his lab; the science-oriented environment of his home; the necessity of animal research; and balancing family life and his career. The interview concludes with his thoughts on his own mentoring style; the way his medical training frames his research, the role of the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences in his work; the "illogic" concept of gene patenting; funding and its relationship to the direction of research in the United States; publishing; and more on science and politics in the former Yugoslavia.
Robert P. Goldstein (Bob Goldstein)grew up in Massapequa, New York, the second of three boys. His father was both a lineman for the telephone company and a bus driver. His mother was a nurse. He attended public schools until high school, when he went to a Roman Catholic school. He did well in his classes, even obtaining a year's worth of college credit, but he had not yet displayed a special interest in science. He held jobs as a hotdog seller and a stockboy when he was in high school. He decided to enroll in Union College, originally thinking he would go to medical school. He liked Union and college life; he rediscovered his childhood guitar and his interest in music, and learned to play the carillon there. For a while he thought about a philosophy major, but a class in symbolic logic, taught by Jan Ludwig, and a class in embryology, taught by Ray Rappaport, persuaded him to use his biology major in research. While working in Michael Frohlich's lab, Goldstein was also manager of the campus radio station and worked in campus security for spending money. When Goldstein decided that he wanted to study embryology, Ray Rappaport recommended Gary Freeman's lab at the University of Texas for graduate school. Prior to matriculating at Texas, Goldstein spent the summer with Freeman at Friday Harbor Laboratories in Seattle, Washington, conducting research during the day and camping out at night—he continued this tradition at Friday Harbor in subsequent summers. His first two years in Texas produced nothing substantive, and so he switched from ascidian and snail embryos to C. elegans and began to see results. His data differed from the accepted scientific findings, and so his first talk caused him some anxiety. Goldstein went on to win the year's Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation award. For a postdoc Goldstein chose John White's lab at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology of the Medical Research Council in Cambridge, England. No sooner had Goldstein arrived than White left for Wisconsin, but he left behind marvelous equipment, including the original confocal microscope. Goldstein also shared a 4D microscope with Steven Hird, who had independently developed a similar project on axis specification in C. elegans. His love of scientific discovery and enjoyment of his postdoc years led Goldstein to another postdoc at the University of California, Berkeley, in David Weisblat's lab. Working on evolution of development, Goldstein and his collection of snails, worms and leeches met his future wife in a lab across the hall. They married after their postdocs, spent their honeymoon in Hawaii, and set off on a road trip to North Carolina, where Goldstein had accepted an assistant professorship. At the end of the interview Goldstein talks about his parents; his brothers' careers; his first postdoc, Jean-Claude Labbé; and music in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He describes his lab set-up and management (including a story about gluing his sock to his foot) and the way his lab writes papers. He explains his administrative responsibilities and his need for independence in his work, and the role that the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences award played in his research. He discusses his grants, and he compares those from the National Institutes of Health with those of the National Science Foundation; he then goes on to compare funding in the United States with funding in England. He gives his definition of biomedicine, his opinion about the role of politics in science, and his praise of cultural diversity at the University of North Carolina.
George C. Prendergast was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the oldest of four siblings. His father taught accounting and economics at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia; his mother worked for General Electric until Prendergast was born. From a young age he was interested in science and scientists, reading about both in the World Book Encyclopedia Childcraft series, and in music, playing the piano, the alto saxophone, the clarinet, and the flute. In high school he chose to participate in a Saturday-morning organic chemistry class, which lasted for three hours. Predergast applied to and was accepted at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) in Philadelphia. As an undergraduate he read James Watson's Molecular Biology of the Gene which contributed significantly to his growing interest in molecular biology. From UPenn he went on to graduate research at Yale University, though realized after a year that his research interests diverged from the faculty at Yale, so he left with a master's degree and then continued his graduate studies at Princeton University. At Princeton Prendergast worked with Michael Cole, the discoverer of the Myc gene and gene translocation in certain cancers, before moving on to a postdoctoral position with Edward B. Ziff at New York University, in part because of Ziff's desire to move in the direction of neurobiology. After a few years in Ziff's lab, Prendergast interviewed at several universities but chose to begin a career in industry at Merck Research Laboratories, a company for which his wife worked. He stayed there for a short while before moving on to the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia to research farnesyltransferase inhibitors and programmed cell death. Later he also accepted a position as the senior director in the department of cancer research at DuPont Pharmaceuticals, thereby becoming the principal investigator of two laboratories. At the end of the interview Prendergast talks about the advantages and disadvantages of working less at the bench; balancing work and family life; the work environment at Merck and DuPont; managing his two positions at Wistar and DuPont; the comparative strengths and weaknesses of academic and biotechnological science; and his current research on Myc protein and signal transduction by the Ras oncoprotein. He concludes with his thoughts on the issue of patents in science; the advantages of knowing the history of science; scientific research in academia and the commercial sector and the nature of competition in academic and commercial labs; biological hazards; and the role of the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences in his work.
Ann B. Hill was born in Melbourne, but was raised primarily in Sydney, Australia, the second youngest of four children. Her father took advantage of opportunities for returning soldiers after the Second World War and pursued a degree in electronic engineering; her mother worked as a teacher until her children were born. Hill was a voracious reader throughout her childhood; she did not develop an interest in science until high school. She had a number of influential educators in her life, including teachers, principals, and family members. Ultimately she decided to study medicine at the University of New South Wales. She participated in a summer research program in Robert V. Blanden's laboratory at the Australian National University before interning at Sydney Hospital with a specialization in internal medicine. She continued to train in clinical immunology at St. Vincent's Hospital in Sydney, where she also worked to set up an immunology clinic for AIDS patients. Wanting to combine clinical medicine and scientific research, Hill returned to the Australian National University for her doctoral degree, working in Arno Mullbacher's laboratory on immunodominance and the cytotoxic T-cell response to flaviviruses. After winning the Oxford Nuffield Dominions Medical Fellowship she attended Oxford University as a postdoctoral fellow in Andrew J. McMichael's laboratory, researching HLA-B51, cross-presentation, and immuno-evasion. At the end of her postdoc, Hill took another postdoctoral fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Hidde L. Ploegh's lab to study immuno-evasion by herpes simplex viruses. This last postdoctoral fellowship proved quite influential scientifically and Hill continued work on immune-evasion as a member of the Oregon Health Sciences University. Hill used the remainder of the interview to reflect upon her own career, as well as various contemporary issues in scientific research and practice, like her decision to enter medicine rather than the humanities; the impact of her senior high school education on her career; patents and the privatization of scientific research; and competition in science. She ends the interview with thoughts about her family and the role that the Pew Scholars Program in Biomedical Sciences has played and continues to play in her work.
Mark A. Saper was born in New York City, where he lived for several years. His family moved to Connecticut when his father, an electronic engineer, took a job there. His mother had a degree in accounting but stayed home with the children (Mark and his two younger brothers) while they were still young. Then she went back to school and eventually began work as a data processor at Yale University. During this his father took a job in New Jersey, so Saper had responsibilities at home in addition to his schoolwork and Hebrew school. He manifested an early interest in and talent for mathematics, but his brother surpassed him, even becoming a mathematics professor. In high school Saper became a drum major, very interested in music, joining the marching band. He also liked biology, writing an exceptional paper on protein biosynthesis. After graduation from high school Saper used his bar mitzvah money to spend seven weeks in Israel.
Looking for a school with a good marching band and music program, Saper matriculated at the University of Connecticut. His freshman advisor was a professor of biophysics who steered him into chemistry; organic chemistry sparked his interest in biology. He worked one summer at his uncle's engineering firm and a later summer in Janos Varga's laboratory. After Saper and the University marching band visited Europe during his sophomore year, Saper found that he had to give up the serious pursuit of music to focus on science. He discovered crystallography in a biophysics class and decided to go to graduate school rather than medical school. He chose Rice University, where he studied the structure of sterols in Florante Quiocho's lab. He was also very interested in computers and graphics software, which he used to trace the polypeptide chain. He went again to Israel to present two papers.
Saper spent another year in Quiocho's lab until a Weizmann fellowship came through; then he went to Rehovot, Israel. His wife-to-be found a program in Jerusalem, so they were able to see each other enough to become engaged; they then returned to Houston to be married and then went back to Israel to finish Saper's postdoc. There and in Germany he worked on ribosomal crystallography in Joel Sussman's and Ada Yonath's labs. Next Saper accepted a position in Don Wiley's lab at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Harvard, where he was attempting to develop software to study human leukocyte antigen (HLA), working with Pamela Bjorkman.
He accepted an assistant professorship at the University of Michigan, where he remains today, teaching; working in his lab; publishing; working on the structure of protein tyrosine phosphatases and protein secretion in Yersinia; and balancing his work with life with his wife, Cindy, and his three sons.