Kathleen L. Collins

Born: May 10, 1963 | Boston, MA, US

Kathleen L. Collins grew up in Norwell, Massachusetts, and developed an early love for chemistry. Attending Wellesley College, Collins 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. Collins was accepted into the Medical Scientist Training Program at Johns Hopkins University, where she earned a joint MD/PhD degree. She did doctoral research on DNA synthesis in Thomas Kelly's molecular genetics laboratory, mentored by Mark Wold. Collins completed a postdoc at MIT in David Baltimore's lab, then accepted a position at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She discusses the impact of receiving the Pew award; gender issues in science; administrative duties; writing grants; advice to would-be scientists; publishing; teaching duties; and clinical responsibilities. 

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0477
No. of pages: 105
Minutes: 350

Interview Sessions

Karen A. Frenkel
10-12 July 2006
University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Michigan

Abstract of Interview

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. 

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1985 Wellesley College BA
1993 Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine MD/PhD

Professional Experience

Brigham and Women’s Hospital

1993 to 1994
Intern, Internal Medicine
1994 to 1995
Resident, Internal Medicine
1995 to 1998
Clinical Fellow, Infectious Disease

Beth Israel Hospital Boston

1995 to 1998
Clinical Fellow, Infectious Disease

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

1995 to 1998
Clinical Fellow, Infectious Disease

Brockton/West Roxbury VA Medical Center

1995 to 1998
Clinical Fellow, Infectious Disease

Harvard University

1996 to 1998
Research Fellow, Medicines

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

1996 to 1998
Postdoctoral Fellow, laboratory of Dr. David Baltimore

University of Michigan Hospital (Michigan Medicine)

1988 to 2007
Staff Physician

VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System

1998 to 2007
Staff Physician

University of Michigan

1998 to 2005
Assistant Professor, Internal Medicine, Divisions of Molecular Medicine & Genetics and Infectious Disease
2005 to 2007
Associate Professor, Internal Medicine, Divisions of Molecular Medicine & Genetics and Infectious Disease

Honors

Year(s) Award
1982

CRC Press Freshman Chemistry Award for Achievement in Chemistry

1984

Phi Beta Kappa

1985

Medical Scientist Training Program Award

1985

M.A. Cartland Shackford Medical Fellowship

1985

Wellesley College Trustee Scholar Award for Study in Medicine

1985

Wellesley College Durant Scholar

1985

BA, Summa cum laude with departmental honors in Molecular Biology; Thesis: "Characterization of the Interleukin- 1 Gene."

1993

Johns Hopkins' University Young Investigator's Certificate of Merit Research Award

1996 to 1997

Howard Hughes Medical Institute Postdoctoral Research Fellowship for Physicians

1997 to 2001

NIH Mentored Clinical Scientist Development Award

1998

Biomedical Scholars Program Award, University of Michigan

1998

Massachusetts Infectious Disease Society Maxwell Finland Young Investigator Award for Excellence in Research

1999 to 2003

Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences 

2000

Center for AIDS Research Development Award

2001

Plenary speaker, American Association of Immunology Symposium on Microbial Invasion

2003

Padykula Lecturer, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA

2003

Plenary speaker, 2004 Keystone Symposia on Molecular Mechanisms of HIV Pathogenesis

2004

Chair of the plenary session, Nef Function, 2004 Keystone Symposia on Molecular Mechanisms of HIV Pathogenesis

2004

Elizabeth C. Crosby Award

2005

Plenary speaker, 2005 ASM Symposia on Viral Immune Evasion

2005

Chair of the plenary session, Viral Regulation of Antigen Presentation

2005

ASM Symposia on Viral Immune Evasion

2005

Plenary speaker, 91st International Titisee Conference  "Cell biology meets the immune system: molecular aspects of host pathogen interactions."

2005

Elected to The American Society for Clinical Investigation

2005

Elizabeth C. Crosby Award

2006

Member, NIH AIP study section

2006

Plenary speaker, 13th annual Palm Springs Symposium on HIV/AIDS

2006

Invited speaker, 2006 Lysosomes and Endocytosis Gordon Conference

Table of Contents

Childhood, College, and Graduate and Medical School
1

Growing up in Norwell, Massachusetts. Parents. Siblings. Religion. Influential high school chemistry teacher. Leisure activities. Childhood interests and experiences. Attends Wellesley College. College experiences. Works in Andrew C. Webb's molecular biology laboratory for honor's thesis. Webb's mentoring style. Parental expectations. Attends Johns Hopkins University Medical School. The MD/PhD program at Johns Hopkins. Clinical rotation at Guys Hospital in London. Meets and works for Thomas J. Kelly. Doctoral research in Kelly's molecular genetics laboratory on DNA synthesis. Mark Wold's mentorship.

Internship, Residency, Postdoctoral Research, and the University of Michigan
35

Match with the Brigham and Women's Hospital of Harvard University for internship and residency. Process of board certification in internal medicine. Reasons for doing a postdoctoral fellowship at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Meets and works for David Baltimore as a postdoctoral fellow. Work in the Baltimore lab. Broader applications of postdoctoral research on HIV and cytotoxic T lymphocytes. David Baltimore's mentoring style. Reasons for becoming a principal investigator. Accepts a position at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Setting up lab. Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences. Gender. Balancing family and career. Administrative duties. Grant-writing process. Funding history.

Current Research and Thoughts about Science
68

Current research in molecular biology studying the immune response to HIV infection. Mentoring style. More on David Baltimore's mentoring style. Qualities of a good scientist. Advice to beginning scientists. Writing journal articles. Clinical duties. Teaching responsibilities. Impact on science of reduced funds for research. Professional and personal goals. Future research on the biochemical and biological mechanisms of immune responses and latency during viral infection. Duties to the scientific community. Patents. Setting the national science agenda. Improving science education. Advice to women interested in a career in science.

Index
103

About the Interviewer

Karen A. Frenkel

Karen A. Frenkel is a writer, documentary producer, and author specializing in science and technology and their impacts on society. She wrote Robots: Machines in Man’s Image (Harmony 1985) with Isaac Asimov. Her articles have appeared in many magazines and newspapers including The New York TimesCyberTimesBusiness Week, Communications Magazine, DiscoverForbesNew Media, Personal Computing, Scientific American, Scientific American MIND, The Village Voice, and Technology Review. Ms. Frenkel’s award-winning documentary films, Net Learning and Minerva’s Machine: Women and Computing aired on Public Television. She has been an interviewer for Columbia University’s Oral History Research Center’s 9/11 Narrative and Memory project, The National Press Foundation’s Oral History of Women in Journalism, and the International Psychoanalytic Institute for Training and Research’s Oral History. Professional memberships include: The Authors Guild, National Association of Science Writers, Writer’s Guild of America East, and New York Women in Film and Television: Past Member of the Board and Director of Programming. Her website is www.Karenafrenkel.com.