Gail P. Jarvik

Born: February 8, 1959 | Evanston, IL, US

Gail P. Jarvik was raised in Mount Prospect, Illinois. She had an early interest in nature, reading, and math, and several influential teachers. She matriculated at the University of Iowa, majoring in zoology. She began her medical training at Iowa, but James Hanson, the head of pediatric genetics, encouraged her to pursue her PhD at University of Michigan. There, Jarvik worked on fetal hydantoin syndrome. Next, she went to University of Pennsylvania where she collaborated with Terri Beaty from Johns Hopkins University on hyperlipidemia. She then took a postdoc at University of Washington, under Ellen M. Wijsman, and went on to accept a position at the University of Washington Medical Center. She discusses public awareness of genetic research, ethical questions, advantages of competition, and more.

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0523
No. of pages: 84
Minutes: 350

Interview Sessions

William Van Benschoten
22-24 May 2002

Abstract of Interview

Gail P. Jarvik was raised in Mount Prospect, a suburb of Chicago, Illinois, one of six siblings (with an age-span of seventeen years between the oldest and youngest). Her mother was a housewife who received a college degree in her fifties and her father transitioned from being a television repair man to becoming the youngest fire chief in Illinois. She had an early interest in nature, reading, and math, and had several influential teachers. She matriculated at the University of Iowa, majoring in zoology. An interest in science and medicine led Jarvik to apply for admission to various medical and graduate programs, including the University of Iowa’s Medical Scientist Training program, to which she was accepted.
She began her studies for her medical doctorate at the University of Iowa before James Hanson, the head of pediatric genetics at Iowa, gave her the opportunity to pursue her PhD at the University of Michigan. In the lab of Charles F. Sing at Michigan, Jarvik began to work on fetal hydantoin syndrome but then switched topics before completing her degree. Upon finishing her medical education at Iowa she moved on to train in internal medicine at the University of Pennsylvania where she collaborated with Terri Beaty from Johns Hopkins University, on hyperlipidemia. After finishing her training she began a medical genetics fellowship on the genetics of prostate cancer at the University of Washington, Seattle, under Ellen M. Wijsman, and then went on to accept a position at the University of Washington Medical Center.
Throughout the interview Jarvik spends much time talking about her current work, her life outside of the lab, her perspectives on science and its practice in contemporary culture. She discusses her opinions on the public awareness of genetic research, ethical questions in science, the advantages and disadvantages of competition in science, her collaborative research projects, and the importance of being familiar with the history of biomedical science in her research. In addition she reflects on the ways in which the Pew Scholars Program in Biomedical Sciences has affected her work and on the methods that should be used to improve the quality of science in her field.

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1980 University of Iowa BS Zoology
1983 University of Michigan MS Human Genetics
1986 University of Michigan PhD Human Genetics
1987 University of Iowa MD

Professional Experience

University of Washington

1991 to 1992
Acting Instructor, General Medicine
1991 to 1994
Senior Medical Genetics Fellow
1994
Acting Instructor, Medicine
1995 to 2000
Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Medical Genetics
2000 to 2003
Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Medical Genetics
2000 to 2001
Acting Head, Medical Genetics Clinic

University of Pennsylvania

1989 to 1991
Physician, Student Health Service

Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

1989 to 1991
Adjunct Faculty, Walk-in Clinic
1990 to 1991
Attending Physician and Instructor, General Internal Medicine

Philadelphia Veterans Administration Hospital Medical Center

1990 to 1991
Educational Consultant to the Director

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

1995 to 2003
Affiliate Assistant Member

Honors

Year(s) Award
1982 to 1986

NIH Predoctoral Training Grant Award

1992

Individual National Research Service Award (declined)

1992 to 1995

Howard Hughes Medical Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship

1995

American Heart Association Clinician Scientist Award

1996

Diabetes and Endocrinology Research Award

1996

Howard Hughes Medical Institute Pilot Research Award

1997

Royalty Research Grant

1997 to 2001

Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences

1998

Veterans Administration Hospital Epidemiology Research and Information Project Award

1998

National Institute of Health Award (PI): RO1 1HL6199

1998

Poster Award, International Genetic Epidemiology Society Meeting

1999

National Institute of Health Award (PI): PO1 HL30086 (Project 1)

1999

National Institutes of Health Award (PI): RO1 1HL6199-01, 1998; PO1HL30086 (Project 1)

2001

American Medical Association Physician's Recognition Award (Internal Medicine)

2002

National Institute of Health Award (PI): HL67406

2002

National Academy of Sciences "Frontiers of Science" Meeting,Chair, Organizing Committee

2002

Roger R. Williams Award for Excellence in Genetic Research, American Heart Association

Table of Contents

Childhood, Undergraduate Education, and Medical and Graduate School
1

Family background. Childhood interests and experiences. Interests in nature, reading, and math. Attends school in Mount Prospect, Illinois. Decision to become a geneticist. Influential teachers. Extracurricular activities. Parental expectations. Majors in zoology at the University of Iowa. Works during summer in Carol J. Newlin's laboratory. Admitted to the Medical Science Training program. Admitted to medical school at University of Iowa and is mentored by Jim Hanson. Changes to PhD program at University of Michigan. Returns to University of Iowa for completion of medical education.

Residency and Research
18

Trains as an internal medicine resident at the University of Pennsylvania. Collaborates on hyperlipidemia paper with Terri Beaty from Johns Hopkins University. Social life during school. Meets future husband Jeffrey "Jerry" G. Jarvik during residency. Begins medical genetics fellowship at the University of Washington in Seattle under Ellen M Wijsman. Marries. Research on the genetics of prostate cancer

Current Work and Thoughts about the Scientific Life
25

Current projects on the genetics of vascular diseases and of prostate cancer. Interest in disease prevention. Teaching duties. Administrative and clinical responsibilities. Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences award. Establishing her laboratory. Funding history. Writing journal articles. Lab management style. Committee responsibilities. Balancing family and career. Family support. Leisure activities. Public awareness of genetic research. Ethical questions in science. Patents. Privatization of research. Competition and collaborative research projects. Politics and research. Gender.

Final Thoughts
62

History of biomedical science. More about the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences. Suggestions for additions to the Pew program. Religion. Laboratory management and mentoring style. Educated citizens, the media, and bioethicists. Importance of providing good training and support for future scientists.

Index
82

About the Interviewer

William Van Benschoten