Jerry R. Faust

Born: March 10, 1948 | Sterret, TX, US

Jerry R. Faust grew up in Dallas, Texas, where a school trip to a laboratory confirmed his desire to become a scientist. He attended Stephen F. Austin State University, studying chemistry and biology. After a year as a chemist, he attended graduate school at University of Texas, Arlington. Next, he became a research associate in the Michael S. Brown and Joseph L. Goldstein lab at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Faust describes Brown's and Goldstein's backgrounds, the lab's work on cholesterol metabolism, and Nobel research. After eleven years he went to E. I. DuPont de Nemours and Company as a principal investigator. Faust describes the structure and research resources of the Du Pont Experimental Station and his projects there. Soon, he decided to pursue is PhD at Tufts University, where he still has a lab.

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0558
No. of pages: 114
Minutes: 445

Interview Sessions

Andrea R. Maestrejuan
18-20 February 1997
Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts

Abstract of Interview

Jerry R. Faust began his childhood on his father's farm in rural Texas. When his parents divorced he moved with his mother, a nurse, and his brother to Dallas, Texas, where he attended junior high school and high school. When he was in eighth grade he took an advanced biology class in which the newly-discovered ATP was discussed at length, but in high school he "left biology" for chemistry. He loved chemistry, a field that was really taking off at the time. A high school chemistry teacher proved an important role model, and an influential school trip to a research laboratory confirmed his desire to become a scientist. Faust's chemistry teacher was also the basketball coach, and Faust played well enough to be offered a basketball scholarship to Stephen F. Austin State University. As he says, he went to college to play basketball, not to learn, so he rejected an offer from Rice University, as studying might have gotten in the way of basketball. At Austin State he declared a major in chemistry and minored in biology, soon developing an interest in biochemistry. He considered working in biochemistry to be a way to make a contribution to society. After graduation Faust took a position as a chemist. He spent a boring year testing materials before deciding to go to graduate school. He took a biochemistry course taught by Edward Bellion, and entered his lab at University of Texas at Arlington. There he continued to develop his interest in biochemistry. He felt he had certain advantages coming to biochemistry as a chemist rather than a biologist. After finishing a master's degree, Faust accepted a position as research associate in the Michael S. Brown and Joseph L. Goldstein lab at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. Faust describes Brown's and Goldstein's backgrounds; his role in the lab's work on cholesterol metabolism; and learning opportunities in the lab. He also explains their Nobel Prize for research into LDL. After being there for eleven years he went to E. I. DuPont de Nemours and Company as a principal investigator in the cardiology unit. Faust describes the structure and research resources of the Du Pont Experimental Station and his projects there. He explains his professional satisfaction in designing and implementing research per se, irrespective of clinical applications. Faust's preference for following tangents rather than pursuing a strictly linear line of research led him next to the decision to pursue a PhD in the physiology department at Tufts University, where he entered James Fred Dice's lab. Being a student again was different and strange. Here he discusses how the need to meet funding requirements affects the direction of research; the value of funding sources that allow for creative research; and the advantages of increasing cooperation between labs. He continues with a discussion of Dice as a mentor; his own mentoring and managing style; influence on his research of the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences award; grant writing; and competition with Peter Pentchev's lab over work on cholesterol transport in Niemann-Pick type C disease. He has more to say about the competition with the Pentchev lab; differences between the grant review process at the National Science Foundation and that at the National Institutes of Health; science funding in general; and his lab's work on neuronal ceroid lipfuscinosis. Collaboration with foreign labs leads to foreign students, difficult to fund and difficult to place after graduation, especially since principal investigator positions are so scarce. He finishes with a description of how he and his partner, also a scientist at Tufts with whom he collaborates on projects, balance their work life with their home life.

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1971 Stephen F. Austin State University BS
1974 University of Texas at Arlington MA
1991 Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences, Tufts University PhD

Professional Experience

Tufts University School of Medicine

1987 to 1991
Doctoral Student Researcher, Department of Physiology
1991
Assistant Professor, Department of Physiology

Associated Dallas Laboratories

1971 to 1972
Analytical Chemist

University of Texas at Arlington

1972 to 1974
Research Assistant

University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas

1974 to 1977
Research Technician, Departments of Internal Medicine and Molecular Genetics
1977 to 1985
Research Associate

E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., Experimental Station

1985 to 1987
Principal Investigator, Cardiovascular Unit

Honors

Year(s) Award
1992 to 1994

Harcourt General Charitable Foundation New Investigator Award

1992 to 1996

Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences

1995

American Heart Association Established Investigator Award

Table of Contents

Early and College Years
1

Childhood in rural Texas. Early science education. High school chemistry teacher proves an important role model. Influential school trip to a research laboratory. General public's unfamiliarity with the work of the research scientist. Move to Dallas. Life on the farm as a child. Family background. Accepts a basketball scholarship to Stephen F. Austin State University. Career expectationsamong students at high school. Impact of the Vietnam War. Declares a major in chemistry. Develops an interest in biochemistry. Considers work in biochemistry as a way of making a social contribution.

Graduate School, Work as Technician, and Research
24

Teaches a summer lab course in quantitative analysis. Cost of a college education. Playing basketball in college. Takes a position as a chemist after graduation. Enters the Edward Bellion lab as a graduate student at University of Texas at Arlington. Advantages of coming to biochemistry as a chemist rather than a biologist. Accepts a technician position in the Michael S. Brown and Joseph L. Goldstein lab at the University of Texas Southwestern MedicalCenter in Dallas. Work on cholesterol metabolism. Personnel recruitment for the lab. Research position at E. I. Du Pont de Nemours and Company. The resources of the Du Pont Experimental Station for work in immunology, membrane biology, cholesterol metabolism, and neurosciences. Impact of Brown and Goldstein's Nobel Prize on the Southwestern Medical Center.

Doctoral Work at Tufts
55

The value of funding sources that allow for creative research. Decision to pursue a PhD at the Tufts University School of Medicine. The structure and research resources of the Du Pont Experimental Station. Projects at Du Pont. Enters the James Fred Paulo" Dice lab at Tufts. The transition to being a student again.

Faculty Years and Final Thoughts
71

The process of separation from Du Pont. The Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences. Competition. Cholesterol transport in Niemann-Pick type C disease. Differences between the grant review process at the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. Strategies for structuring research proposals. Science funding. Work on neuronal ceroid lipfuscinosis. Collaborations with overseas labs. Life of a two-science-career couple.

Index
111

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About the Interviewer

Andrea R. Maestrejuan