Ann Marie Craig

Born: June 4, 1961 | Ithaca, NY, US

Ann Marie Craig was born in Ithaca, New York. By the time she entered university, she had fallen in love with the beauty and logic of science. She began classes in psychology, interested in how the brain works. She spent two summers working for the National Research Council of Canada. Her work was molecular neurobiology, leading her into cancer research. For her PhD, Craig chose David Denhardt's lab at the University of Western Ontario because she wanted to learn DNA cloning. After two postdocs, her interest shifted, this time to synapses, and she accepted a position at Washington University. Her research interests include molecular mechanisms underlying synapse formation and synaptic plasticity. She hopes in the future to initiate research on central neuron synapse assembly, modulation, and electrophysiology. 

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0467
No. of pages: 83
Minutes: 300

Interview Sessions

Andrea R. Maestrejuan
8-10 April 2003
Washington University School of Medicine St. Louis, Missouri

Abstract of Interview

Ann Marie Craig was born in Ithaca, New York, the second of three children. Her father was a graduate student in business administration at Cornell University, and her mother was a nurse. Both parents came from small towns in the Maritime Provinces of Canada, so when Ann Marie was about three years old the family moved back to Canada, where her father became a professor of business administration at Ottawa University. Ann Marie remembers liking school, particularly her third-grade teacher and a high school science teacher, but she does not claim a from-birth interest in science; that came later, after a flirtation with becoming a teacher or a nun. By the time she entered Queens College as a double major in mathematics and physics, she did know she loved the beauty of internal logic and consistency, which she found most in science. After her first year at Queens she realized that she was in the wrong field, so she began classes in psychology, interested in discovering how the brain works. Next she entered Carleton University with a major in biological psychology, which she soon switched to biochemistry. She spent two of her college summers working for the National Research Council of Canada and one purifying proteins at the University of Western Canada in Ontario. From those summers she gleaned three publications. Her work was mostly molecular neurobiology, cloning DNA, leading her into cancer research. At the time the Canadian university system did not have rotations; students were expected to find themselves a lab. Ann Marie chose David Denhardt's lab at the University of Western Ontario because she wanted to learn DNA cloning and molecular biology and transvection of mammal cells. She did her PhD research on molecular biology of cancer progression and the 2ar/osteopontin protein. After what Craig considers an unusually smooth graduate training, she revived her interest in the molecular basis of learning and memory and accepted a postdoc in Daniel Alkon's lab at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at the National Institutes of Health. Disappointed in the progress of her research, she left Alkon's lab for a postdoc at Gary Banker's lab at the University of Virginia, changing also her research model organism, working on neuronal polarity and the clustering and trafficking of receptors in neurons. Ann Marie began learning molecular biology as an important technique in neuroscience, but recognizing that electrophysiology was key, Craig almost decided to do a third postdoc to learn electrophysiology; instead she decided to accept a position at the University of Illinois and to set up her own lab. Again her interest shifted, this time to synapses, and Washington University in St. Louis offered more scope for pursuing that research, so she accepted an associate professorship there. Her research interests continue to include the molecular mechanisms underlying synapse formation and synaptic plasticity, their regulation and functional importance; she hopes in the future to initiate research on central neuron synapse assembly, modulation, and electrophysiology. 

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1984 Carleton University BSc Biochemistry
1989 University of Western Ontario PhD Biochemistry

Professional Experience

National Institutes of Health

1989 to 1991
Postdoctoral Fellow, Lab of Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

University of Virginia

1991 to 1994
Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Neuroscience

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

1994 to 1999
Assistant Professor, Department of Cell and Structural Biology, and Neuroscience Program

Washington University School of Medicine

1999 to 2005
Associate Professor, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology

University of British Columbia

2005 to 2017
Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Brain Research Centre

Honors

Year(s) Award
1984

Director's Award in Biochemistry and Chancellor's Medal, Carleton University

1985 to 1989

Medical Research Council of Canada Studentship

1989 to 1992

Medical Research Council of Canada Fellowship

1992 to 1994

NIH Individual NRSA Fellowship

1994 to 2006

NIH RO1 Award: Subcellular Targeting of Neurotransmitter Receptors

1997 to 2001

Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences Award

1999 to 2004

NIH RO1 Award: Molecular Analysis of Neuronal Polarization

2000 to 2005

NIH P01 Award: Molecular Genetics of Mammalian Synaptogenesis
(PI: Sanes)

2005 to 2010

NIH R01 Award: Mechanisms of Central Neuron Synaptogenesis

2005 to 2010

CIHR Operating Grant: Molecular Dynamics at the Postsynaptic Density

2005

Michael Smith Foundation Senior Scholar Award

2005

Canada Research Chair in Neurobiology, Tier 1

Table of Contents

Early Years
1

Family background. Parental expectations. Early school years. Influential teachers. Extracurricular activities. The impact of religion on Craig.

College Years
13

Begins a major in mathematics and physics at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario. Graduates from Carleton University in Ottawa as a biochemistry major. Her interest in neuroscience. Learns to do research while working in National Research Council Canada laboratories. Her undergraduate molecular biology research project. The Canadian university system.

Graduate School Years
16

Joins David T. Denhardt's laboratory at the University of Western Ontario for her PhD. Craig's doctoral research on the molecular biology of cancer progression and the 2ar/osteopontin protein. Life in Denhardt's lab.

Postdoctoral Years
24

Craig's postdoctoral research on the cellular basis of learning and memory in Daniel L. Alkon's laboratory at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). The Alkon laboratory. Craig's decision to change her research model organism. The importance of a researcher's model organism. Craig's second postdoctoral fellowship in Gary A. Banker's laboratory at theUniversity of Virginia. Her postdoctoral work on neuronal polarity and the clustering and trafficking of receptors in neurons. The impact of technology on her research.

Faculty Years
42

Accepts an assistant professorship at the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign. Setting up her lab. Funding. Grant writing. Accepts assistant professorship at Washington University in St. Louis. Competition; collaboration; peer-review; gender and ethnicity issues; teaching responsibilities; ethical issues; patents. Craig's current research on the molecular mechanisms underlying synapse formation and synaptic plasticity, their regulation and functional importance; future research on central neuron synapse assembly, modulation, and electrophysiology. Her professional andpersonal goals. The impact of the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences on her work.

Index
81

About the Interviewer

Andrea R. Maestrejuan