Carol W. Greider

Born: April 15, 1961 | San Diego, CA, US

Carol W. Greider was born in San Diego, California. Beatrice Sweeney, a family friend, inspired Greider to attend University of California, Santa Barbara, where she studied circadian rhythms, working with a graduate student who studied microtubules in chicken brains. In part because of Elizabeth Blackburn, Greider decided to attend graduate school at University of California, Berkeley. There she became interested in how sequences are added into telomeres. She discovered the telomerase enzyme and determined its nucleic acid component, finding that telomerase is sensitive to RNase and has an RNA component. She then accepted a postdoc at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, where she remains. Greider continues work on telomerase, relating it to human aging and cellular senescence and attempting to clone the RNA component of telomerase.

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0483
No. of pages: 229
Minutes: 600

Interview Sessions

Neil D. Hathaway
22, 24, 30 September, 5 October 1993
The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, NY

Abstract of Interview

Carol W. Greider was born in San Diego, California. Her father was a physicist; her mother was a biologist who died when Carol was young. Her father had a position at Yale University when Carol was a child, and they lived in New Haven for a couple of years. Then they returned to California, to the University of California at Davis, where they continued to live while Carol grew up, except for a year in Germany when Carol was about ten. She learned to speak German there and continued to study the language when she was in high school. Beatrice Sweeney, a friend of her father, inspired Greider to attend the University of California at Santa Barbara. She studied circadian rhythms there, working with a graduate student who was studying microtubules in chicken brains. She spent her junior year in Göttingen, Germany. In part because of Elizabeth Blackburn, Greider decided to attend graduate school at University of California at Berkeley. In Blackburn's lab she cloned telomeres by functional complementation and became interested in how sequences are added into telomeres. She began searching for the telomerase enzyme; when she discovered it she determined its nucleic acid component, finding that telomerase is sensitive to RNase and has an RNA component. After completing her PhD she accepted a postdoc at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, where she remains. Greider continued work on telomerase, relating it to human aging and cellular senescence and attempting to clone the RNA component of telomerase. She found herself in competition with Blackburn's lab to some extent. But her collaboration with Calvin Hurley, who was recruited into Geron Corporation, led to a position as an advisor there; she has, therefore, what many scientists consider a great deal of funding. Competitors have risen in what used to be Greider's own area, but still telomerase remains uncloned. Greider has organized and held a conference on telomerase; she is editing a textbook; and she meets with others—most recently in Sweden—who are interested also in telomeres and telomerase.

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1983 University of California, Berkeley BA Biology
1987 University of California, Berkeley PhD

Professional Experience

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

1988 to 1990
Cold Spring Harbor Fellow
1990 to 1992
Staff Investigator
1992 to 1994
Senior Staff Investigator
1994
Senior Staff Scientist

Honors

Year(s) Award
1981

Auslandsamt Scholarship, Georg-August-Universität

1981

Regents Scholarship, University of California

1983

Phi Beta Kappa

1984

Graduate Opportunity Fellowship, University of California, Berkeley

1990 to 1994

Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences

1992

Allied-Signal Corporation Outstanding Project Award

Table of Contents

Early Years
1

Born in San Diego. Father physicist, mother biologist. Mother died when Carol very young. Spent most of childhood in Davis, California. Spent a year in Germany when in grade school. Liked and did well in science in high school.

Undergraduate Years
8

Inspired by Beatrice Sweeney to attend University of California at Santa Barbara. Studied circadian rhythms in Sweeney's lab. Worked with a graduate student, Kevin Sullivan, studying microtubules in chicken brains. Worked with David Asai. Spent junior year as exchange student in Göttingen, Germany. Travel and social life. Dyslexia's effects on career. Applied to graduate schools.

Graduate School Years
43

Entered University of California at Berkeley. Worked with Elizabeth H. Blackburn on cloning telomeres. Worked in Steven K. Beckendorf's lab. Telomerase enzyme; Tetrahymena; RNase.

Postgraduate Years
114

Postdoc at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory; Bruce W. Stillman's role there. Consulting for Biotechnology companies. Conflicts of interest. Cellular senescence. Sets up her own lab. Competes with Blackburn lab. Repeats and processivity. Funding. Private industry and conflicts of interest.

Greider's Lab and Geron
125

Sets up and manages her own lab. Calvin Hurley, her collaborationist, goes to Geron Corporation. Greider eventually gets a position as advisor at Geron. Her lab studies telomerase in humans and mouse. Other labs become interested intelomerase. Telomerase researchers in Sweden. Greider's conference on telomeres. Lab management.

Index
225

About the Interviewer

Neil D. Hathaway