David J. Julius

Born: November 4, 1955 | Brooklyn, NY, US

David J. Julius was born and grew up in Brooklyn, New York. He was interested early in the sciences, although he did not particularly enjoy school. He attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he received his BS in 1977. He then obtained his PhD from University of California at Berkeley in 1984. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of Cancer Research at Columbia University, then an associate at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. In 1989 he became assistant professor at the University of California, San Francisco, where he remains. Julius's major areas of interest include yeast genetics, the secretory pathway, Xenopus and Aplysia, neurobiology, electrophysiology, mouse genetics, and the serotonin receptor.

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0428
No. of pages: 203
Minutes: 450

Interview Sessions

Neil D. Hathaway
20, 23, 27 and 31 July 1993

Abstract of Interview

David J. Julius was born and grew up in the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn, New York, where he lived with his parents and two brothers, one older and one younger. His father was an engineer and his mother an elementary-school teacher. Julius attended the local grammar school, but he tested into Peter Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan. He commuted there for a year before deciding that though the social and entertainment life in Manhattan surpassed those in Brooklyn, he preferred to go to the local high school, Abraham Lincoln High School. He was interested early in the sciences, although he did not particularly enjoy school. He attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he received his BS in 1977. He then obtained his PhD from University of California at Berkeley in 1984. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of Cancer Research at Columbia University; he then was an associate at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Columbia University. In 1989 he was appointed assistant professor at the University of California at San Francisco, where he remains. He is the winner of a number of awards, including the Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences award, and has published many papers. Julius's major areas of interest include yeast genetics, the secretory pathway, Xenopus and Aplysia, neurobiology, electrophysiology, mouse genetics, and the serotonin receptor. He is married to Holly A. Ingraham.

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1977 Massachusetts Institute of Technology BS Biology
1984 University of California, Berkeley PhD Biochemistry

Professional Experience

Columbia University

1984 to 1987
Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute for Cancer Research

Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons

1987 to 1989
Associate, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

University of California, San Francisco

1989 to 1995
Assistant Professor

Honors

Year(s) Award
1976

Eloranta Research Fellow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

1981

University of California Graduate Studies Award

1984 to 1987

Fellow, Jane Coffin Childs Memorial Fund for Medical Research

1990 to 1994

Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences Award

Table of Contents

Early Years
1

Growing up in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, New York City, New York with parents and two brothers. Cultural influences of his Russian Jewish heritage. Commuting to high school in Manhattan; transferring to local high school; finding Manhattan exciting for social life. Disliking school at first; beginning to like it in junior high school. Having vague career plans.

College Years
26

Attending Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Curriculum and work experience at MIT. Summer jobs. Developing an interest in things other than science; reading fiction. Deciding to study biological sciences. Entering Joel Huberman's lab. Okazaki fragments of DNA. Inspired by elegance of Louis F. Reichart's work. Discovering an aptitude for experiments. Summer at Simon Litvak's lab in Bordeaux, France. Applying to graduate schools.

Postgraduate Years
102

Purifying enzymes at University of California at Berkeley. Lab rotations. Working on yeast genetics in Jeremy W. Thorner's lab. Randy Schekman's lab. Processing steps along secretory pathway. Seeking an enzyme that will cleave a-factor substrates. Mutant genes' ability to make a-factor. KEX2 gene. Interest in biochemistry of hormones.

Postdoctorate Years
134

Taking a postdoc at Columbia University Institute of Cancer Research. Shifting research focus to brain signaling. Working in Richard Axel's lab. Becoming interested in cloning serotonin receptor; trying Dan R. Littman's method of cloning to get serotonin receptors. Technological constraints on experiments. Working with Thomas M. Jessell to find neurotransmitter receptors. LearningXenopus technology from Douglas A. Melton. Receptors in choroids plexus of the brain. Electrophysiological measurements. Cloning a serotonin receptor. Running Julius's own lab. 5HT1c; 5HT3. Therapeutic applications of his research.

Index
198

About the Interviewer

Neil D. Hathaway