Gregory J. Hannon

Born: May 5, 1964 | Pittsburgh, PA, US
Photograph of Gregory J. Hannon

Gregory J. Hannon was raised in New Castle, Pennsylvania. He attended Case Western Reserve University. During his sophomore year he worked in Joyce E. Jenhoft's laboratory, which served as a pivotal moment in his scientific career. Upon starting his graduate career at Case Western, he entered Timothy N. Nilsen's lab and began his work on RNA processing, developing new techniques to answer his research questions. While working as a postdoctoral fellow with David Beach at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, he researched cell cycle interacting proteins and RNA interference (RNAi). He next accepted a permanent research position at Cold Spring Harbor. Hannon talks about partnerships between academics and industry professionals, the complexities of starting his own lab, privatization of scientific research, trademark issues, and more.

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0471
No. of pages: 82
Minutes: 350

Interview Sessions

Andrea R. Maestrejuan
16-18 December 2002
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, New York

Abstract of Interview

Gregory J. Hannon was raised in New Castle, a town in western Pennsylvania just north of Pittsburgh, the elder of two children in a large Irish-Catholic family. His father worked as a quality inspector at Johnson Bronze Company; his mother was a homemaker. After completing high school, Hannon attended Case Western Reserve University, choosing to major in biochemistry. During his sophomore year he began working in Joyce E. Jenhoft's laboratory, which served as a pivotal moment in his scientific career. The experience of scientific research in the Jenhoft lab encouraged Hannon to participate in a program for early admission to Case Western's graduate school. Upon starting his graduate career, he entered Timothy N. Nilsen's lab and began his work on RNA processing, developing new techniques to answer his research questions. Hannon completed his PhD at Case Western and then chose to continue his studies as a postdoctoral fellow with David Beach at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York. In Beach's lab he worked on cell cycle interacting proteins and RNA interference (RNAi). It was during this time that Hannon began collaborating with Yue Xiong (Pew Scholar, Class of 1995) and Manuel Serrano on CDK. He accepted a permanent research position at Cold Spring Harbor, and worked through the complexities associated with transitioning from someone else's lab to one's own research lab at the same institution; he also started his work with Genetica, Inc. Throughout the remainder of the interview, Hannon talks about partnerships and collaborations between academia and industry; the privatization of scientific research; and trademark issues. He also discusses his perspectives on the grant-writing process; the peer review system; and gender issues in science. The interview concludes with his reflections on balancing his career and his family life, his scientific aspirations, and the impact of the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences on his work.

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1986 Case Western Reserve University BA Biochemistry
1991 Case Western Reserve University PhD Molecular Biology

Professional Experience

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

1992 to 1994
Postdoctoral Fellow
1994 to 1995
Staff Associate II
1996 to 2000
Assistant Professor
2000 to 2002
Associate Professor
2002
Professor

Honors

Year(s) Award
1982 to 1986

Andrew J. Squire Scholar

1986

Phi Beta Kappa

1992 to 1995

Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell Cancer Research Fund Fellowship

1997 to 2000

Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences Grant

2000

Rita Allen Scholar

2002 to 2005

US Army Breast Cancer Research Program Innovator Award

Table of Contents

Childhood, College, and Graduate School
1

Family background. Parental expectations. Growing up in New Castle, Pennsylvania. Early schooling. Influential high school teachers. Love of reading. Extracurricular activities in high school. Religion. Case Western Reserve University. Majors in biochemistry. Decides to pursue a career in research after working in Joyce E. Jenhoft's laboratory at Case Western ReserveUniversity during his sophomore year. Participates in a program for early admission to graduate school at Case Western Reserve University. Reasons for doing PhD research in Timothy W. Nilsen's laboratory. Doctoral research on RNA processing. Develops new techniques to answer research questions. Nilsen's mentoring style.

More on Graduate School and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
27

Timothy W. Nilsen' s laboratory. Criteria for judging a laboratory forpostdoctoral research. Postdoctoral fellowship with David Beach at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Beach's mentoring style. Work in Beach's laboratory on cell cycle interacting proteins and RNA interference. Collaborations with Yue Xiong and Manuel Serrano. Accepts a position at Cold Spring Harbor. Setting up hislaboratory. Relationship with David Beach and Genetica Inc. Partnerships and collaborations between academia and industry. Privatization of scientific research. Patents, intellectual property ownership, and rights of the inventor. Trademark issues.

Reflections on Science, Family, and Work at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
54

Grant-writing process. Peer review system. Funding history. Laboratory management style. Watson School of Biological Sciences at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Teaching responsibilities. Faculty levels at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Gender. Wife and children. Typical day. Wife's career. PewScholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences award. Current research on the biochemistry and biology of RNA interference. Clinical applications of his work. Future research plans. Assessment of professional goals.

Index
80

About the Interviewer

Andrea R. Maestrejuan