Joseph E. Craft

Born: September 7, 1951 | Wilson, NC, US

Joseph Craft was born in Wilson County, North Carolina. He did not leave the farm area except for school, a mile away, until college, when he attended the University of North Carolina (UNC) in Chapel Hill. Craft chose UNC for medical school, where he decided he wanted to be an academic clinician. Wanting further training, During his three busy years of residency he considered switching to research. After a further year in general medicine he accepted a postdoc in rheumatology at Yale. While doing his postdoc he did his clinical work in his spare time. He began by studying Lyme disease, but switched to autoimmunity in general. Craft discusses his early publications; explains how the Pew grant helped him make the transition from clinic to lab; talks about his collaborations with John Hardin and Tsuneyo Mimori; details his funding; and talks about competition, tenure, a typical day at the lab, and his administrative duties. Craft concludes his interview with reflections on the interaction between his clinical practice and his science work. 

Access This Interview

The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.

			

Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0721
No. of pages: 19
Minutes: 70

Interview Sessions

Arnold Thackray and Stephanie Morris
6 March 1989
Ixtapa, Mexico

Abstract of Interview

Joseph Craft was born in Wilson County, North Carolina, one of three children. His father was a farmer, his mother a housewife. He did not leave the farm area except for school, a mile away, until he went the nine miles to University of North Carolina (UNC) in Chapel Hill. Neither parent was college-educated, but all three children attended college. Craft's siblings became teachers; Craft did very well in school so was expected to become a doctor. He liked chemistry, liking the way organic chemistry was put together. Accepted at both Duke University and the University of North Carolina, he chose UNC for medical school, where he liked the way his professors communicated and decided he wanted to be an academic clinician. Wanting further training, Craft accepted a position as house officer in internal medicine at Yale University. For him Yale represented a transition between farm and city, the South and the North. He found his teachers interesting but thought they did not add to the body of knowledge, as he wanted to do. During his three busy years of residency he considered switching to research. After a further year in general medicine he accepted a postdoc in rheumatology at Yale. He chose rheumatology because its diseases were not well-defined and had few specific remedies. While doing his postdoc he did his clinical work in his spare time. He began by studying Lyme disease, but its cause and cure already known so he switched to autoimmunity in general. Craft discusses his early publications, feeling they were solid but not innovative; he explains how the Pew grant helped him make the transition from clinic to lab; he talks about his collaborations with John Hardin and Tsuneyo Mimori. He details his funding, in particular his first National Institutes of Health grant. He talks about competition, tenure, a typical day at the lab, and his administrative duties. Craft concludes his interview with reflections on the interaction between his clinical practice and his science work. He feels that autoimmune diseases are better categorized and defined now, and he hopes to continue his current work but to do an even better job. He believes that there is a good possibility cause and cure will be discovered accidentally someday. 

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1973 University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill AB Chemistry
1977 University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill MD NULL

Professional Experience

Yale-New Haven Hospital

1977 to 1980
Intern and Resident, Internal Medicine

Yale University School of Medicine

1980 to 1982
Instructor, Medicine
1982 to 1985
Fellow, Rheumatology
1985 to 1990
Assistant Professor, Medicine

Honors

Year(s) Award
1972

Phi Beta Kappa, University of North Carolina

1976

Alpha Omega Alpha, University of North Carolina School of Medicine

1984

Research Fellow, Arthritis Foundation

1985 to 1989

Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences

Table of Contents

Early Years
1

Born in Wilson County, North Carolina, one of three children. Father farmer, mother housewife. Never left farm except for school, one mile away, until college. No science until college. Did well in school, so expected to become doctor. Applied only to University of North Carolina (UNC), nine miles from home. Siblings became teachers. Did well in college; liked chemistry; liked way organic chemistry put together. Good teachers. Applied to Duke University and UNC for medical school; accepted at both, chose UNC. Liked medical school; liked the way teachers communicated; wanted to be academic clinician.

Clinical Years at Yale
4

Accepted position as house officer in internal medicine. Chose Yale because excellent school; good fit for him; away from small town but not New York; in the North. Good teaching but added nothing new to body of knowledge; "reanalyzing the same data set. " Rheumatologist good role model. Three-year residency busy and enjoyable. Felt he was good at doctoring; hard to give up for science. Spent another year deciding; worked in inner-city clinic in general medicine. Could afford more years training; knew he was very good doctor, thought he would be good in lab. Rheumatology good for him because cannot define illnesses well and cannot solve; few specific therapies.

Science Years
8

Personal reasons to stay at Yale; got postdoc for three years. Did clinical rheumatology in his spare time. Why more do not complete both medical school and PhD's. Studied Lyme disease; clinically vague; liked director, but had cause and cure already. Switched to general autoimmunity: diseases ill-defined, no specific causes, like rheumatology. Publications in general medicine; felt work was solid but not innovative. Pew award helped make transition to science. Beginning with Alan Steere and Duncan Fischer. Collaborating with Tsuneyo Mimori and John Hardin. National Institutes of Health grant; funding in general. Competition. Tenure. Typical day. Administrative duties: admissions committee for medical school; clinical work; lectures.

Final Reflections
15

Interaction between clinical practice and science work, in general medicine and in rheumatology. Feels diseases better categorized and defined now. Hopes to continue current work but to do it even better. Probable that cause and cure will be discovered serendipitously. Documentation; dog ate undergraduate notes; important to preserve.

Index
19

About the Interviewer

Arnold Thackray

Arnold Thackray founded the Chemical Heritage Foundation and served the organization as president for 25 years. He is currently CHF’s chancellor. Thackray received MA and PhD degrees in history of science from Cambridge University. He has held appointments at Cambridge, Oxford University, and Harvard University, the Institute for Advanced Study, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

In 1983 Thackray received the Dexter Award from the American Chemical Society for outstanding contributions to the history of chemistry. He served for more than a quarter century on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was the founding chairman of the Department of History and Sociology of Science and is currently the Joseph Priestley Professor Emeritus.

Stephanie Morris