David D. Ginty

Born: May 8, 1962 | Danbury, CT, US

David D. Ginty was born in Danbury, Connecticut and studied biology at Mount St. Mary's. Though the college's small size limited lab opportunities, Ginty was inspired by his professors' love of their work. After his senior year, he was offered a job at National Institutes of Health, but a friend's mother urged him to obtain a PhD. At East Carolina University, he found a small program with close relations between faculty and students. Ginty's interest in the nervous system led him to a postdoc at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, where he worked in John Wagner's lab on growth factor signal transduction in the neuron. He then accepted a position at Johns Hopkins University, where he is today. He continues to work on nerve growth factor and retrograde signaling.

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0462
No. of pages: 91
Minutes: 500

Interview Sessions

William Van Benschoten
2-4 September 2003
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland

Abstract of Interview

David D. Ginty was born in Danbury, Connecticut, but grew up in Fairfield, Connecticut; he has an older brother and a younger sister, and all three are adopted. Ginty's father worked in insurance, eventually becoming the head of the malpractice division for the state of Connecticut. His mother began as an elementary school teacher but eventually founded her own nursery school, which flourished. Their extended families were large and close, for which David still feels extremely fortunate. He loved school, especially mathematics and science, and he did well until high school. Then he took advantage of his parents' "laissez-faire" attitude toward their sons and hived off with his brother instead of going to school. He did, however, play football and jai alai in high school. His parents were devout Roman Catholics, and religion was an important part of Ginty's childhood. Religion was also an important factor in his mother's urging Ginty to attend Mount St. Mary's; she wanted him to become more disciplined and more religious. There he majored in biology, which was the strongest of the science departments. Because it was a small college it offered very little lab experience, but Ginty was able to work for Dr. Thomas, who worked on the synthesis of porphyrin rings; because Dr. Thomas loved his work, he inspired Ginty. Dr. Gauthier offered a course in physiology that Ginty also found exciting. Furthermore, Ginty met his future wife at Mount St. Mary's. In spring of his senior year of college, Ginty realized that he needed to decide what he would do next. He was offered a job at National Institutes of Health, but a friend's mother urged him to obtain a PhD He applied to graduate schools very late but was accepted at East Carolina University. There he found a small program, with close relations between faculty and students; also, this program was new and required students to have a broad foundation in the sciences, so Ginty took many other courses. He had five rotations, all of which he loved, but he went to work in Edward Seidel's lab to study nerve growth factor signaling. Ginty's interest in the nervous system led him to a postdoc at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, where he worked in John Wagner's lab on growth factor signal transduction in the neuron. When Wagner moved to Cornell University he wanted Ginty to go with him, but Ginty decided to stay at Dana-Farber, and he went to Michael Greenberg's lab, studying phosphoantibodies. After three years there he accepted an assistant professorship at Johns Hopkins University, where he is now an associate professor. He continues to work on nerve growth factor and retrograde signaling; to teach; to publish; to write grant proposals; and to balance his work with his family life.

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1984 Mount Saint Mary's College BS Biology
1989 East Carolina University School of Medicine PhD Physiology

Professional Experience

Mount Saint Mary's College

1982 to 1984
Laboratory Teaching Assistant, Department of Chemistry

East Carolina University School of Medicine

1984 to 1989
Graduate Teaching Fellow, Department of Physiology

Harvard Medical School

1989 to 1991
Postdoctoral Fellow in the laboratory of John A. Wagner, PhD, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology
1991 to 1994
Postdoctoral Fellow in the laboratory of Michael E. Greenberg, PhD, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

1995 to 1999
Assistant Professor, Department of Neuroscience
1999
Associate Professor, Department of Neuroscience
2000
Assistant Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Honors

Year(s) Award
1984

Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society

1987

American Gastroenterological Association StudentResearch Fellowship

1989

NIH Individual NRSA Postdoctoral Fellowship

1992

American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Research Fellowship

1992

American Heart Association, MA Affiliate, Postdoctoral Fellowship

1995

Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship

1995

Klingenstein Foundation Award in Neuroscience

1996

American Cancer Society Junior Faculty Research Award

1996

Basil O'Conner Scholars Award, March of Dimes

1996 to 2000

Pew Scholars Award

2000

Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Table of Contents

Early Years
1

Family background. Childhood experiences. Early schooling. Early interest in science and mathematics. His interests in high school. Influential teachers. Religion in the family.

College Years
27

Matriculates at Mount St. Mary's College and Seminary; majors in biology. Meets his wife-to-be there. Liked to take apart and put things together, so interested in mechanistic biology. Small science departments offered little lab experience, but worked as TA for Dr. Thomas, who was interested in synthesis of porphyrin rings. Dr. Gauthier's course in physiology spurred intention to study physiology.

Graduate Years
32

Offered position at National Institutes of Health. Applied late to graduate schools; settled on East Carolina University. High faculty-student ratio; young faculty. Broad requirements in the sciences. Loved all five of his rotations. Tried to work in Edward Lieberman's lab, but personalities did not mesh, so Ginty went to Edward Seidel's lab to work on growth factor signaling.

Postgraduate Years
46

Postdoc with John A. Wagner at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Ginty's interest in the development and function of the nervous system. Work on the action of growth factor signal transduction on the neuron. Ginty's second postdoctoral fellowship in Michael E. Greenberg's laboratory. Ginty's postdoctoral research on nerve growth factor and the regulation of gene expression by growth factors and neurotransmitters. His work developingphosphoantibodies in Greenberg's laboratory. Ginty's children. Balancing family and career.

Later Years
67

Ginty's role in his laboratory; administrative duties; teaching responsibilities; funding. Tenure at Johns Hopkins University. Ginty's current work on nerve growth factors and retrograde signaling. Controversies and differences in interpretation in science.

Index
89

About the Interviewer

William Van Benschoten