David A. Brenner grew up in Queens, New York, and evinced an early interest in the sciences. As an undergraduate at Yale University he worked in Joseph Bloomer's lab, where he continued his research after earning his bachelor's degree in biology and entering Yale Medical School. His subsequent work has focused on ferrochelatase and fibrosis in cirrhosis. In his 1990 interview, Brenner discusses tenure; his lab management style; competition and collaboration; and his winning of the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences award. Brenner starts the 2009 interview by reviewing his early years in college and affirming his career decisions. He appreciates the insights his clinical experience gives him in his research, and he talks about the Pew award and the Pew annual meetings.
Patrick Brennwald grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. He remembers taking many good science classes in high school, and doing a special project on the sex determination mechanism of swordtail fish. Brennwald attended Carleton College, where he began in biology, but switched to chemistry. He loved the bench and realized he wanted to be a scientist. Brennwald entered the University of Illinois, working in Jo Ann Wise's lab. Researching Schizosaccharomyces pombe he cloned four small RNA's and had two first-author papers. After a four year postdoc with Peter Novick at Yale University, he accepted an assistant professorship at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, where he works on the gene family Rho.
For more information on Roger Brent, please visit the Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Scholars.
For more information on this oral history, please contact the Director of the Center for Oral History.
Ronald Breslow grew up in Rahway, New Jersey, the son of a physician. Max Tishler, a family friend, helped to pique Breslow's interest in chemistry. In high school, Breslow entered the Westinghouse Science Contest, which enabled him to meet like-minded teenagers. He entered Harvard University, graduating with his AB in chemistry in 1952, having attended chemistry courses taught by Louis Fieser and Paul Bartlett, and having conducted research with Gilbert Stork on the structure of cedrene. Breslow earned his PhD in chemistry in 1955 for his work on magnamycin under R. B. Woodward. In 1956, Breslow joined the faculty of Columbia University, where he has worked on a variety of subjects, including thiamine, cyclopropenyl cation, cyclodextrins, and electron transfer.
Leo Brewer became interested in chemistry through the influence of a high-school chemistry teacher in Los Angeles. He attended Caltech and,. after receiving his BS in 1940, Linus C. Pauling advised him to begin his graduate work at the University of California at Berkeley, where he studied under Axel R. Olsen. Upon receiving his PhD, Brewer immediately joined the Manhattan Project as a research associate. Brewer's job was to use models in the periodic table to determine the worst properties of plutonium. He tested refractory materials, such as nitrites, carbides, lanthanides, actinides, sulfites, sulfides, and phosphides, and determined that cerium sulfide would serve as the best model (later, Brewer predicted the electronic configuration of all the actinides). His research for the Manhattan Project found direct application at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and was later published as part of the Manhattan Project Technical Series. In 1946, Brewer joined the faculty of the University of California at Berkeley. During his career at Berkeley, Brewer worked in many fields, including organic chemistry, ceramics, astrochemistry, and even geology. Within these areas, he applied his thermodynamic research, including studying high-temperature molecules present in comets and stars, and the distribution of elements in the earth's gravitational field.
Kenneth H. Britten was born in Washington, DC. He received his BS in biology from the California Institute of Technology, where he became interested in neuroscience and neuroethology. He received his PhD in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and remained there for his postdoc in William T. Newsome's lab, later moving with Newsome to Stanford University. Britten and Newsome worked together closely, using psychophysics to map and measure the neuromechanics of perceptive visual fields in primates. In 1993, Britten was appointed assistant professor in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior at the University of California, Davis. Britten's research focuses on extrastriate visual cortex in primates and how they respond to complex visual stimuli.
Frances M. Brodsky grew up in Princeton, New Jersey, where her seventh-grade teacher got her interested in biology. In 1972 she entered Radcliffe, where she majored in biochemical sciences. Through a biochemistry mentoring program, Brodsky worked for three summers in Paul D. Gottlieb's laboratory at MIT. While at Oxford University, she worked in Walter F. Bodmer's laboratory, where she researched monoclonal antibodies. In a career that spanned academia and industry, she worked for Stanford University, Becton Dickinson Immunocytometry Systems, and the University of California, San Francisco. Brodsky discusses the issues surrounding funding and how that affects laboratory management, the recent decision by the Board of Regents of the University of California to abolish affirmative action, and the ways scientific collaboration and controversies have affected her.
Anthony Brown attended Cranleigh School, where his interest in science evolved past the “inevitable chemistry set.” At the University of Cambridge he found chemistry dull but liked genetics and the history and philosophy of science. He decided to spend his third year in genetics. Two laboratory experiences and a brief foray into the “real world” convinced Brown he wanted to do science, so he entered a PhD program at the University of Edinburgh. Brown spent two postdoctoral years in Pierre Chambon’s lab at the Institute for Genetics and Cellular and Molecular Biology in Strasbourg, France, and three years in Harold Varmus’ lab at University of California, San Francisco. At this point he was ready for his own lab and was being recruited by the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in London, England. He sought competing offers and found Cornell University’s to be the best match. His work is moving toward developmental biology; he hopes in the future to understand differentiation pathways better.
Herbert C. Brown studied at Crane Junior College, where he became fascinated by chemistry and its history; when Crane closed down, Brown was among the students invited to work in Nicholas D. Cheronis' Synthetical Laboratories, where he earned enough to enroll in a University of Chicago correspondence course on qualitative analysis and supplemented his education by working with Fales's Quantitative Analysis. Brown continued his studies and lab work at Wright Junior College and the University of Chicago. During his career he worked at the University of Chicago, Wayne State University, and later Purdue University; during the interview he detailed his studies on steric effects, boranes, and borohydride synthesis. Brown worked for the National Defense Research Committee during Worald War II, which included research on the volatile compounds of uranium, uranium borohydride production and testing, sodium trimethoxyborohydride production, and sodium borohydride development.
David R. Bryant was one of seven children and grew up in North Carolina. He began working at age ten, and held various jobs until he earned a scholarship to Wake Forest University. Influenced by his high school science teacher, Bryant double-majored in chemistry and math. After receiving his BS in 1958, Bryant decided to attend graduate school at Duke University. Focusing on organic chemistry, he worked on the conversion of organic compounds into dianions under Charlie Hauser. Bryant earned his PhD in 1961 and immediately took a job with Union Carbide Corporation. He worked on developing a method of producing vinyl acetate without halide, and later worked with benzyl acetate, acrylic acid, and rhodium triphenylphosphite in the Oxo process.
Jochen Buck was born and grew up in Reutlingen, Germany. During the Vietnam War, he became a conscientious objector, working with disabled youths. He decided to become a doctor, but in medical school at the University of Tübingen, he discovered that he loved scientific research. He worked in Ulrich Hammerling's lab, where he localized cell growth caused by autocrine growth factor. He accepted a postdoctoral position at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, working with Vitamin A and discovering retro-retinoids. Next, he accepted an assistant professorship at Cornell University Medical College. He is now an associate at Cornell, where his lab and Lonny Levin's share space and where he and Levin work together on adenylyl cyclase.
Ralph C. Budd grew up in Middletown, New York, where he had teachers who fostered his interest in science and mathematics, and attended Cornell University. During his residency at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Budd began specializing in rheumatology. He did postdoctoral work in Kendall A. Smith's lab at Dartmouth College, where he found his medical practice and his research influencing each other. He went to Lausanne, Switzerland, to study T lymphocyte development in lymphoproliferative mice at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, and studied immunology at Stanford University. After a year at Genentech, he settled at the University of Vermont, where he continues to teach, mentor, and do research. He believes basic science is crucial, attempting to direct results is counterproductive, and is interested in therapeutic applications of his research.
Stephen Buratowski grew up in Iselin, New Jersey. He liked to read science stories and mysteries (Jules Verne and Encyclopedia Brown), and knew as a child that he wanted to be a scientist. A Princeton University recruiter helped him decide to attend Princeton, which he called “paradise.” There he met George Khoury, and asked to study in Khoury’s lab at the National Cancer Institute during the summer. There he did recombinant DNA for the first time. In Philip Sharp’s lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he worked with Steven Hahn on TFIID. He got a “spectacular” thesis from his work. After some time at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, he accepted an assistant professorship at Harvard University, where he is today.
Cynthia J. Burrows was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, one of two children. When she was in ninth grade the family moved to Boulder, Colorado, where later her high school chemistry class made beer that eventually exploded all over the classroom. That was her first clue that she wanted to be a chemist. She attended the University of Colorado and spent her junior year at the University of Edinburgh taking courses from Evelyn A. V. Ebsworth. In her senior year she entered Stanley Cristol's lab, working on Stern-Volmer plots. Next she spent four months as balloon technician on Ascension Island, returning to Cristol's lab for the remainder of the year. Burrows entered Cornell University's PhD program, where she became intrigued by Barry Carpenter's class and by reaction mechanisms. For a postdoc she went to the lab of Jean-Marie Lehn in Strasbourg, France. She went on to positions at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and then the University of Utah, universities in which she was the only woman in her departments. Burrows discusses at length women in chemistry and the changes she has seen during her career; support and mentoring from her friends and colleagues in COACh and more informal groups; her sabbatical in Okazaki, Japan; being mentored by John Osborn and mentoring her own students; and about how to interest more young women and men in science by teaching more science earlier.