Anirvan Ghosh

Born: April 19, 1964 | Bloomington, IN, US
Photograph of Anirvan Ghosh

Anirvan Ghosh was in born in Bloomington, Indiana, though his family soon moved to Kanpur, India. His parents were both scholars, so Ghosh lived his life in an academic setting. He stayed in the Indian educational system (which he describes in detail) until he matriculated at the California Institute of Technology. Ghosh undertook undergraduate research in the laboratories of Jack Beacham, Thomas Tombrello, and Jerome Pine. He also worked at Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory, where he had a defining moment during a neurobiology course. At Stanford University for graduate school, he studied under Carla J. Shatz researching brain-cell development. Upon finishing his postdoc, Ghosh accepted a position at Johns Hopkins University, though soon decided to move on to University of California, San Diego, where he remains. 

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0469
No. of pages: 114
Minutes: 500

Interview Sessions

William Van Benschoten
2-3 February 2004
University of California, San Diego, San Diego, California

Abstract of Interview

Anirvan Ghosh was in born in Bloomington, Indiana—Ghosh's parents were graduate students there—the older of two children. After a brief time at Rice University in Houston, Texas, Ghosh's family moved to Kanpur, India, where Ghosh grew up. His father was a chemistry professor; his mother taught at local schools and colleges until she received a faculty position teaching comparative literature. Ghosh lived his life in an academic setting, being heavily influenced by the work of his parents and their interest in traveling and showing their children various sites. He stayed in the Indian educational system (which he describes in detail) until he was seventeen years of age at which point he matriculated at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). While transitioning into the American educational system, Ghosh undertook undergraduate research projects in the laboratories of Jack Beacham, Thomas Tombrello, and Jerome Pine. In addition, he was afforded the opportunity to work in Thomas S. Reese's lab at Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory, a place at which he had a "defining" moment during a neurobiology course. Ghosh decided to pursue a graduate education and was torn between attending Stanford University or Harvard University, ultimately choosing the former. At Stanford, he studied under Carla J. Shatz researching brain-cell development After hearing a talk from Michael E. Greenberg at a Gordon Conference, Ghosh became interested in doing his postdoctoral research with Greenberg at Harvard Medical School in the field of molecular neurobiology, focusing on experiential cortical development in the brain. Although neither he nor his wife had ever lived on the East Coast, they decided to move there with their son given the density of universities and potential job opportunities. Upon finishing his postdoctoral research, Ghosh accepted a position at Johns Hopkins University, though soon after decided to move on to a position at the University of California, San Diego. The interview concludes with Ghosh recounting the establishment of his Hopkins laboratory, his transition to San Diego, and his current and future research goals. In addition, Ghosh reflects upon patents; the privatization of scientific research; competition and collaboration in science; the national scientific agenda; underrepresented groups in science; the source of his ideas; and last, but certainly not least, the impact of the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences grant on his work.

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1985 California Institute of Technology BA Physics
1991 Stanford University PhD Neuroscience

Professional Experience

Harvard Medical School

1991 to 1995
Postdoctoral Fellow, Molecular Neuroscience

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

1995 to 2016
Assistant Professor, Department of Neuroscience
2000 to 2003
Associate Professor, Department of Neuroscience

University of California, San Diego

2003
Stephen Kuffler Professor, Department of Neurobiology

Honors

Year(s) Award
1984 to 1985

Caltech Prize Scholarship

1985

Graduated with honor in Physics

1990 to 1991

Giannini Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellowship

1991 to 1994

Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell Cancer Research Fund PostdoctoralFellowship

1994 to 1995

Medical Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship

1995 to 1997

Damon Runyon Scholar Award

1996 to 1998

Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow

1996 to 1999

EJLB Foundation Scholar Research Award

1996 to 1999

Klingenstein Fellowship Award in Neuroscience

1997 to 2001

Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences Grant

1997

Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers

2016

John Merck Scholar Award

2000

Society for Neuroscience Young Investigator Award

2003

Stephen Kuffler Professorship, University of California San Diego

Table of Contents

Childhood and Education in India
1

Growing up in Kanpur, India. Family background. Father and mother. Mother's Career. Interests in high school and college. Favorite types of projects. Reasons for accepting a position at University of California, San Diego. Childhood interests and experiences. Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company. Sister'scareer. Early schooling. Educational system in India. College experiences at California Institute of Technology. Attends middle and high school in Kanpur, India. Religion. Parental expectations. Social life during school in India. Attends California Institute of Technology.

College Life and Graduate School
36

Life at California Institute of Technology (Caltech). Undergraduate research projects in the laboratories of Jack Beacham, Thomas Tombrello, and Jerome Pine. Works in Thomas S. Reese's laboratory at Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory. Has a defining moment during a neurobiology course at Woods Hole. Caltech educational process. Impression of the United States. Influential teachers in college. Decides to do graduate work at Stanford University. Works in Carla J. Shatz's laboratory. Shatz's mentoring style. Graduate research in neurobiology on brain-cell development.

Postdoctoral Work
46

Goals for his postdoctoral fellowship. Hears Michael E. Greenberg at a Gordon Conference. Decides to work in molecular neurobiology under Greenberg at Harvard Medical School. Meets future wife. Wife's career. Neurobiologists he admires. Postdoctoral research in the molecular neurobiology of experiential cortical development in the brain. Running of the Greenberg laboratory. Process of writing journal articles in the Greenberg laboratory.

Johns Hopkins University
61

Accepts a position at Johns Hopkins University. Setting up his lab at Hopkins. Role of serendipity in his research. Current research in molecular neurobiology on the mechanisms of brain cell and activity-dependent development during cortical differentiation.

Moving to San Diego
72

Practical applications of work. Move to the University of California, San Diego. Setting up his laboratory at UCSD. Future research in cortical development and plasticity. Role in the laboratory. Teaching responsibilities. Travel commitments. Administrative duties at Hopkins. Funding history. Process for writing journal articles. Laboratory management style. Balancing family and career.

Reflections on Science
83

Professional and personal goals. Patents. privatization of scientific research. Impact of technology on his work. Competition and collaboration in science. Criteria for prioritizing research projects. Educating the public about science. Gender. Impact of the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences grant on his work. Qualities of a good scientist.

Index
110

About the Interviewer

William Van Benschoten