Browse Oral Histories Alphabetically

Thomas J. O'Dell was born in Berwick, Pennsylvania. He attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania to study psychology and natural science. He became interested in neuroscience after reading an article on the brain and memory in Scientific American. O'Dell matriculated at the University of Texas Medical Branch, where he rotated through Ernest S. Barratt's laboratory, studying electrophysiology, but chose to perform his doctoral research on neurotransmitters in retinal neurons in Burgess N. Christensen's laboratory. Next he took postdocs in Bradley E. Alger's laboratory at the University of Maryland and Eric R. Kandel's laboratory at Columbia University. O'Dell then accepted a position at the University of California, Los Angeles, working on beta-adrenergic receptors for norepinephrine and their role in synaptic plasticity and learning and memory. 

George A. O'Toole grew up in rural eastern Long Island, New York. In high school he was especially encouraged by a science teacher who praised O'Toole's interests in science oriented shows like Nova and Nature. O'Toole participated in a research program for high school students at Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, where he was first exposed to cell biology. O'Toole matriculated at Cornell University where he worked in the microbiology research laboratory of Steven H. Zinder had a paper accepted to the Cornell Undergraduate Journal of Science. O'Toole began his graduate research as Jorge C. Escalante-Semerena's first graduate student at the University of Wisconsin, focusing his research on the genetics and biosynthesis of Vitamin B 12. He published nine papers, learning the process of writing a scientific paper directly from Escalante-Semerena. Upon finishing his PhD, O'Toole undertook his post-doctoral research with Roberto Kolter at Harvard Medical School, then accepted a position at Dartmouth Medical School and worked as a consultant for his friend's company, Microbia. O'Toole received a Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences award from which have come numerous collaborations and a networking system. Throughout the interview O'Toole discusses the current climate of funding, mentoring, scientific ethics, and the importance of translational research with regard to scientific responsibility. 

Hans C. Oettgen was born in Germany, but raised in Connecticut. As a child, he spent time in his father's lab and came to understand research when he helped with the isolation of a particular protein from peanuts, which is expressed on some cancer malignancies. He attended Williams College, then went to Harvard Medical School; during one summer, he worked on B lymphocytes with Cornelius P. Terhorst at the Dana-Farber Cancer Center. He moved into the MD/PhD program and continued to work with Terhorst, writing his thesis on biochemical characterization of T-cell-receptor structure. As a postdoc with Philip Leder, he developed a mouse without the gene for immunoglobulin E (IgE). He is now at Children's Hospital in Boston, researching the role of IgE in immune function. 

Marjorie A. Oettinger grew up in Boston, Massachusetts and studied biology at Harvard. She worked in the Kevin Struhl lab as an undergraduate, where she enjoyed lab work and trained other students. Next, Oettinger entered the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's graduate program in the health sciences and technology. While working in David Baltimore's lab, she collaborated with David G. Schatz on the recombination of V(D)J in fibroblasts and discovered that RAG-1 and RAG-2 synergistically activate V(D)J recombination. Oettinger now works at Harvard. She discusses her varied lab experiences and explains that her criteria for choosing research projects must include factors like fundability and probability of publications, not just interest to her. For this reason she particularly appreciates private grants like the Pew Scholars Award. 

George A. Olah reflects on winning the 1994 Nobel Prize in chemistry and discusses his upbringing in Budapest, Hungary, where he earned a PhD in organic chemistry from the Technical University of Budapest. With the collapse of the Iron Curtain, Olah and his family eventually immigrated to Ontario, Canada, where he became a research scientist at the Dow Chemical Company but later became a professor at Western Reserve University. Olah was instrumental in the merging of Western Reserve University and Case Institute of Technology, forming Case Western Reserve University, but eventually he left to become director of the Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute. 

Bradley B. Olwin was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, and grew up on Los Alamos, New Mexico. There his father was an engineer who worked on nuclear testing sites. Olwin studied chemistry at the University of California at San Diego, where he worked in Stuart Brody's and Susan Taylor's lab. Olwin then attended the University of Washington, studying pharmacology. Working in Daniel R. Storm's labs, he used anisotropy to study calmodulin-binding interactions. Olwin accepted a postdoc at University of California, San Francisco in Zach Hall's lab, then at Stephen Hauschka's lab at University of Washington, where he stayed for three years. From there he accepted a professorship at Purdue. Olwin continues to work on the effects of fibroblast growth factor (FGF) on cell differentiation and regulation, cell de-differentiation, and signaling. 

Miguel A. Ondetti starts his interview by describing his upbringing in Argentina, where he was broadly trained in chemistry at the University of Buenos Aires and offered a PhD scholarship and a research opportunity at The Squibb Institute. Ondetti eventually relocated to the US in New Jersey and worked in the peptide synthesis field and pharmaceutical research, while collaborating with scientists in both industry and academia during his career. 

Paul Oreffice describes his interests in entering a commercial career and his career at Dow, reflecting on the development of Dow International and Dow in general as a place for world innovation in plant engineering and product development. Oreffice also offers his views on environmental concerns and government regulations. Oreffice also discusses the chemical industry and Dow in light of industry changes, such as internationalization and consolidation. 

Thomas L. Ortel grew up in on a farm in Indiana. Weekly allergy shots and chicken butchering influenced his early interest in biology. Ortel attended Indiana University for  microbiology and chemistry. He enrolled in the MD/PhD program at IU, where he entered the Frank W. Putnam lab to study protein chemistry. Ortel next studied hematology/oncology at Duke University Medical Center; he liked the camaraderie and the focus on connections between research and clinical practice. While an intern and resident he performed an eye-opening rotation in infectious disease in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He stayed at Duke for a fellowship and soon joined the faculty. He discusses funding, writing, teaching and administrative responsibilities, ethnic and gender makeup of his lab and fellow faculty, lab management, and clinical versus research work. 

Donald Othmer discusses his upbringing in Omaha, Nebraska, his studies at the Armour Institute, the University of Nebraska, and the University of Michigan, and his experience at Eastman Kodak and Poly Tech. Othmer also recounts his adventures in Burma, his association with the government during World War II, the inception of the Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology, and the Chemists' Club. 

Michael J. Overduin was born in Ontario, Canada, and studied biology at Wilfrid Laurier University, completing a thesis with Bernard Glick on the transformation of Pseudomonas aeroginosa and Esherichia coli by electroporation. He attended Rockefeller University for graduate studies in structural biology, working with David Cowburn and using nuclear magnetic resonance to determine the structure of a signal transduction protein. After a postdoc, he accepted a position at University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and began to research domain structure of receptors involved in endocytosis. He also assisted in establishing an NMR spectroscopy facility and biomolecular structure program while there. After several years, he moved to University of Birmingham, helping build the NMR spectroscopy facility and continuing research on complex systems and protein domains of therapeutic targets.