The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
Xi He was born in Wuhan, China during the Cultural Revolution, though he and his family soon moved out of Wuhan into a much more rural area. His father was an associate professor in a medical university—an intellectual—that was targeted during the Revolution. He's early schooling was quite "backward" and "simple," yet he felt much respect for his teachers. Mao's death in 1976 opened a wealth of opportunities for many and college became a viable option for He. After completing the rigorous national college entrance exam, he returned to Wuhan and attended Huazhong University of Science and Technology, where he majored in mechanical engineering. He's interest in biology led him to pursue a master's degree in biomedical engineering at Huazhong University, during which time he was fortunate to meet Dr. Sidney Sullivan. He applied to and matriculated at the University of California, San Diego for his doctoral degree, transitioning into not only a different national culture, but also a different academic culture. He chose to work in Michael G. Rosenfeld's laboratory at San Diego and pursued research on transcription factors in the regulation of brain development. He decided to continue his scientific life in the United States and took a postdoctoral fellowship in Luis Parada's laboratory at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). During his time at the NIH, He married and also began studies in the molecular biology of Wnt signaling in cells in Harold E. Varmus's lab at the NIH. After finishing his postdoctoral work, He accepted a principal investigator position at Harvard University where he developed his research on the Wnt cell signaling pathway in gene expression, regulation, and development. Throughout the remainder of the oral history He discusses laboratory management, competition, collaboration, funding, and his transition from China to the United States (He became a US citizen). The interview concludes with He's thoughts on the role of the scientist in educating the public; the privatization of research; gender and ethnicity issues in science; and the role of the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences in his scientific career.
|1982||Huazhong University of Science and Technology||BS||Mechanical Engineering|
|1985||Huazhong University of Science and Technology||MS||Bioengineering|
|1992||University of California, San Diego||PhD||Biology|
National Cancer Institute
Harvard Medical School
Second Prize Winner of The Young Investigator Award, National Conference on Biomedical Engineering (China)
Third Price Winner of the best graduate thesis (for master's degree), Huazhong University of Science and Technology (China)
|1986 to 1992||
Graduate Fellowship, University of California at San Diego
Phi Beta Delta Society for International Scholars
|1994 to 1996||
Postdoctoral Fellowship, Breast Cancer Research Program, Department of Defense
William Randolph Hearst Fund Award
Milton Fund Award
|1997 to 2000||
Johnson & Johnson Focused Giving Program Award
|1997 to 2001||
Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences Grant
|1998 to 2002||
Department of Defense Career Development Award
|1999 to 2002||
Klingenstein Fellowship in Neuroscience
|2001 to 2005||
M. Keck Foundation Distinguished Young Scholar in Medical Research
SCBA (Society of Chinese Bioscientists in America) Junior InvestigatorAward for Excellence in Research (one awardee every two years)
|2005 to 2010||
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Scholar
Invited to nominate recipients for the Japan Prize 2006 and 2007
Table of Contents
Growing up during the Cultural Revolution in China Parents. Impressions of present-day China. Sister. Mao Zedong's death. Early schooling in rural China. Childhood interests and experiences. Mathematics teacher. College entrance examination. Huazhong University of Science and Technology. Mechanical engineering.
Decision to pursue biology. Huazhong University of Science and Technology for master's degree in biomedical engineering. Dr. Sidney Sullivan. University of California, San Diego. First impressions of the United States. Doctoral research on transcription factors in the regulation of brain development. Michael G. Rosenfeld's laboratory. Religion. Postdoctoral fellowship in Luis Parada'slaboratory at the National Institutes of Health. Marriage. Harold E. Varmus's laboratory at the NIH. Postdoctoral research in molecular biology on Wnt signaling in cells.
Becoming a principal investigator. Position at Harvard University. Research on cell signaling in gene expression, cell regulation, and development. Practical applications of his work. Teaching responsibilities. Writing journal articles. Balancing family and career. His son. Becoming a United States citizen. Leisure activities. The issue of patents.
Being familiar with the history of a particular field of research. Competition and collaboration in science. Educating the public about science. The national scientific agenda. Privatization of research. Impact of the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences on his laboratory.