Browse Oral Histories Alphabetically

For more information on Richard Padgett, please visit the Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences.

For more information on this oral history, please contact the Director of the Center for Oral History. 

Eric G. Pamer was born in Los Angeles, but went to school in Europe and in Cleveland, Ohio. Pamer attended Case Western Reserve University, where he obtained his BA in biology, initially studying hydra in Georgia Lesh's lab and working summers at the Cleveland Clinic. When he entered medical school he worked in Adel Mahmoud's lab, working on immune defense against schistosomiasis. During his fourth year he spent three months working in a Kenyan hospital. He obtained training in internal medicine and infectious diseases at UCSD Medical Center and completed fellowships in parasitology and cellular immunology at Scripps Research Institute and the University of Washington. In 1992, Pamer became an assistant professor at Yale and in 2000 he moved to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to lead the infectious disease service. 

For more information on Barbara Panning, please visit the Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences.

For more information on this oral history, please contact the Director of the Center for Oral History. 

Diane M. Papazian spent her early years in Detroit, where she exhibited an early interest in science. While studying chemistry at the University of Michigan, her organic chemistry class had students identify compounds without using modern methods, which Papazian found enthralling. Papazian entered graduate school at Harvard University, where she discovered neurobiology. She worked in Stanley M. Goldin's lab, reconstituting and purifying calcium transporting ATPases. Papazian accepted a postdoc at the Lily Y. and Yuh Nung Jan lab at the University of California, San Francisco, where she worked on cloning the Shaker gene. Next, she accepted a position at University of California, Los Angeles, and organized her lab there. She discusses her belief that neurobiology must be interdisciplinary, funding disparities, UCLA's atmosphere, and more. 

Rudolph Pariser's life has been significantly shaped by the historical events of the twentieth century, from being born in China after his mother found refuge there during the Russian Revolution while his father escaped from his Russian captives, to being taught in Tokyo as a result of the Japanese invasion of China, and eventually permanently relocating to California due to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Pariser continued his education at the University of California at Berkeley, earning his degree in chemical technology there and later his PhD in physical chemistry at the University of Minnesota after his military service. Pariser then started a long and successful career at Du Pont, originally as a Research Chemist but eventually rising through the ranks of research management owing to his contribution to the development of PPP theory; Du Pont recognized Pariser for his technical achievement by awarding him the Lavoisier Medal in 2003. 

Susan M. Parkhurst was born in Tacoma, Washington. She matriculated at Johns Hopkins University, where she profited from an inspirational developmental biology class and a friendship with a graduate student, Suki Parks. She continued at Hopkins for graduate school, where she joined Victor G. Corces' lab. Next, Parkhurst undertook a postdoc in the David Ish-Horowicz lab at Oxford University. Her work on hairy-wing led to the discovery of how to count chromosomes for sex determination and the transduction of sex-determining signals by helix-loop-helix proteins. She is now a principal investigator at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. She discusses encouraging women and minorities in science, relationships between research institutions and pharmaceutical companies, gene patents, and her excitement about doing science. 

Emma Parmee grew up in Keynsham, England. She attended Exeter College at the University of Oxford and her publication on milbemycin E was awarded the prize for best dissertation in that year. From Oxford, Parmee went to a postdoctoral position at MIT, growing more interested in synthesis than in process. She was recruited by Merck & Co. and worked on obesity projects, helping develop L507. She is credited with being instrumental in the discovery of sitagliptin which is used to treat diabetes. Parmee helped oversee and organize the merger with Schering-Plough and was named Executive Director, Discovery Chemistry Site Head. Parmee discusses her views of science education and the public’s skewed perceptions of drug companies. She says women are still underrepresented in upper levels of management in drug companies but that things are improving. No longer at the bench, she takes her satisfaction in teaching and helping others. She is proud of her three compounds that went to proof of concept in man:  β3-agonist, glucagon, DPP-4 (sitagliptin).

After his formative years Ogden, Utah, Robert W. Parry attended Weber College but earned his BS from Utah State University, his MS from Cornell University, and his PhD from the University of Illinois. Parry's career includes performing research for the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service, and positions at E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, the Munitions Development Laboratory at the University of Illinois, the University of Michigan, and the University of Utah. Later, Parry became involved with the Gordon Research Conferences, serving as conference chairman, an executive committee member, and chairman of the board of directors. 

As a child in Alabama, Jennie Patrick had no real science experience, but she always wanted to know how and why things worked, and by junior high she decided she wanted to be a chemist. When studying chemical engineering at UC Berkeley, she was the only African-American woman in her department. She excelled and attended MIT for her ScD. There she found more black students and professors, including John Turner, who was a dean of students. During her career, she worked for General Electric, Rohm and Haas, Southern Company Services, and Raytheon. While a 3M Eminent Scholar at Tuskegee University, she developed a mentoring program for girls in science. She also discusses her childhood mentors and advice for aspiring chemical engineers. 

Linus Pauling traces his interest in science since his formative years, from gathering laboratory equipment and conducting chemistry experiments in his home, working in his high school's chemistry laboratory, to supporting himself during his undergraduate years by tending to the chemistry department stockroom at Oregon State Agricultural College. As a graduate student at Caltech, Pauling was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to study in Zürich, where he later developed the theory of the three-electron bond. 

Gregory S. Payne was born in San Francisco and raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He attended the University of Michigan, where he initially studied theater, and got a job at a lab to make money, starting as a dishwasher but later assisting in preparations for research. He changed his major from theater to biology and decided to go to graduate school. He attended the University of California, San Francisco, then went on to a postdoctoral position with Randy Schekman at the University of California, Berkeley. He took a reverse genetics approach, used antibodies to identify clathrin, and discovered that knocking out the clathrin gene did not kill cells. Finally, he started his own lab at UCLA, researching proteins involved in cell transport. 

Samuel L. Pfaff was born and raised in Rochester, Minnesota, where a high school biology teacher suggested he volunteer in a Mayo Clinic laboratory. In Peter Dyck's neurology lab there, Pfaff contributed to research on Wallerian degeneration and presented at local, state, and national science fairs. At Carleton College, a class with Dr. Ross Shoger proved quite influential. He attended University of California, Berkley for graduate school, to study with Peter Duesberg whose lab focused on how oncogenes function. After a postdoc he joined the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, researching gene combinations for regulation of motor neurons in spinal cord development. Pfaff discusses balancing family life and career, funding, educating the public about science, the relationship of politics and science, and more. 

Marilyn Pike grew up in Westchester, New York. Pike credits her high school biology teacher for inspiring her career in science. She majored in zoology at Duke University but became interested in biochemistry in Irwin Fridovich’s class. After graduation, Pike worked for three years as a technician in Ralph Snyderman’s lab, publishing several papers. She decided to go to graduate school, staying at Duke and continuing to work in Snyderman’s lab. There she began work with phospholipids, work that continues in her lab today. Pike attended medical school at Duke, finishing her MD in three years and moved to University of Michigan to complete her internship and residency. Pike found a job at Massachusetts General Hospital, with an assistant professorship at Harvard University.

Beth Pilling grew up in Spring House, Pennsylvania. She had very little interaction in Ambler, and she remembers the White Mountains as being just part of the landscape; there was no concern about asbestos then. Pilling became administrator of the Montgomery County Open Space Program and as a representative she attended all the meetings of Citizens for a Better Ambler and then the community advisory group. She believes that the rejection of the high-rise project reflected concern more with loss of green space and the view than with fear of asbestos. Yet another faction, she says, pushes whatever outcome it desires. Because the future use group could not agree on anything it was disbanded, and Pilling is pessimistic about the future of the site. She says the EPA should have determined to what use the citizens wanted the site put and remediated to that purpose; or the CAG should have determined what possible uses there could be, and the costs of each use, and chosen one.

Roy Plunkett discusses his upbringing, his family ties to the Church of the Brethren, his undergraduate studies in chemistry at Manchester College, his graduate work in carbohydrate chemistry at Ohio State University, and his friendship with Paul Flory. After graduate work in carbohydrage chemistry at Ohio State University. an offer from DuPont sent Plunkett to the Jackson laboratories and the refrigerants group where an early assignment was the synthesis of tetrafluoroethylene. Plunkett was moved to tetraethyl lead manufacture; he details his work there and his later career in the Organic Chemicals Department. The interview ends with the recognition of his pioneer work with Teflon and the honors it has brought him. In a brief second interview, Roy Plunkett tells of his common religious background with Paul Flory, their student days at Manchester College and Ohio State University, and their contacts over the years. The conversation ends with further recollections of the circumstances of the initial discovery of tetrafluoroethylene polymerization. 

For more information on James Posakony, please visit the Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences

For more information on this oral history, please contact the Director of the Center for Oral History. 

Vladimir Prelog reflects on his long and distinguished career as an organic chemist, from his formative years in Yugoslavia, his doctoral studies in Prague, his academic involvement at the Technical Faculty of the University of Zagreb, to his research at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH). At ETH, Prelog has worked with the chemistry of natural products and stereochemistry while collaborating with Cahn and Ingold to create the CIP system for defining absolute configuration. 

George C. Prendergast was born and raised in Philadelphia and attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he was inspired to study biochemistry by a chance exposure to James Watson's Molecular Biology of the Gene. He went on to graduate research at Yale University, but, becoming interested in cancer genes, switched to Princeton where in Michael Cole's laboratory he cloned and characterized the first genes regulated by the Myc oncogene. As a postdoctoral fellow in Edward Ziff's laboratory at New York University, which studied oncogenic transcription factors, Prendergast defined the dimerization and DNA recognition functions of Myc required in cancer. Having moved to Merck Research Laboratories to translate these findings to cancer therapy, Prendergast soon became frustrated and left to accept an independent position at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, where he expanded his studies to encompass Ras inhibitors and programmed cell death. In seeking to merge academic and pharmaceutical efforts to pursue new therapeutic principles, Prendergast subsequently became senior director of cancer research at DuPont Pharmaceuticals, thereby becoming a principal investigator for two laboratories at Wistar and DuPont. 

Charles Price discusses his career as a chemist, from his undergraduate studies at Swarthmore College, his graduate work at Harvard University, his faculty appointments, to his research for the National Defense Research Committee during World War II. Price played an influential role as chairman of the department of chemistry at the University of Notre Dame and then later at University of Pennsylvania, while he also conducted research in physical organic chemistry. 

Malcolm Pruitt recounts his early life in Texas and his struggles to complete his undergraduate education during the Depression. As a control chemist at Dow, Pruitt began his extensive studies of the ionic polymerization of cyclic oxide monomers and eventually moved into senior research management. Pruitt also reflects on his initiatory role in the formation of the Chemical Industry Institute of Toxicology and the Council for Chemical Research. 

In this second interview, Malcolm Pruitt reflects on the history and successes of the Council for Chemical Research, describing its origins as deriving from his concern for the poor cooperation between university and industry, thus causing Pruitt to establish a task force which led to the founding of the Council. Pruitt also discusses the American Chemical Society. 

Ann M. Pullen was born in Eastbourne, England. As a child, she enjoyed exploring the outdoors and using a microscope to dissect insects. She attended University of Bath, where she worked in a lab with Michael J. Danson. She also experienced research placements in an agricultural lab near Bristol, England, and subsequently at the Technical Research Centre of Finland. She matriculated at Cambridge University to study immunology with Alan J. Munro, researching Peyer's patch T cell hybridomas. Pullen then took a postdoc at the National Jewish Center for Immunology and Respiratory Medicine in Denver, Colorado. There, she focused her work on T cells, before moving to an assistant professorship at University of Washington, where she collaborated with Michael Patrick Stuart on Mycoplasma fermentans and began using transgenic mice to study extrathymic T cell development. 

For more information on Ellen Puré, please visit the Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences

For more information on this oral history, please contact the Director of the Center for Oral History. 

In this brief interview with the Life Sciences Foundation, David Pyott recalls his upbringing, education and career attainments at Sandoz/Novartis and Allergan.