Jane E. Koehler
The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
Jane E. Koehler was born in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1953, the third of four sisters. Her father was the son of German-American farmers from Missouri; he was a World War II veteran who was the first in his family to attend college and would later go on to obtain a master's degree and a PhD in soil chemistry. Koehler's mother was of Danish parentage and also grew up in Missouri. She earned her master's degree in food science. Both of Koehler's parents taught at Washington State University during the majority of her childhood. From a young age, she was very interested in medicine, and she credits her sisters with being a considerable influence on her personal ambition and success. Koehler graduated from Vassar College in 1975. She struggled with Hashimoto's thyroiditis during this period, and although she found it hard to adjust to student life, Koehler applied to graduate schools and matriculated into a PhD Program at the University of California, Berkeley. She then decided to earn a master's degree in microbiology instead of a PhD in order to pursue a medical education. Koehler worked as a research associate while she took her MCAT and applied to medical schools. She was eventually accepted into the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, where she received an MD in 1984, and met her husband, Stephen X. Nahm. The couple moved to California so that Koehler could begin internship rotations at the University of California, San Francisco. It was there that she became much more interested in the study of infectious diseases. In 1984 Koehler was awarded an infectious disease fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco, where she researched the causative agents of bacillary angiomatosis in Dr. Richard S. Stephens' lab and later in Nina Agabian's lab. In 1988 Koehler began working at the University of California, San Francisco, as a Clinical Instructor of Medicine in the Infectious Diseases Department. She rose through the ranks from Research Microbiologist to Assistant Professor and was eventually appointed Associate Professor of Medicine in Residence in the Infectious Diseases Department. Her current research focuses on tracing the complex life cycle of Bartonella and its role in the frequent infection of immunocompromised patients. Throughout her oral history Koehler points out the many obstacles that women face when undertaking a professional career, and she stresses the importance of positive female mentors. She has won several awards including the American Medical Women's Association Scholarship Achievement Citation, the ICAAC Young Investigator Award, the Pierre Richard Dick-Virbac Fondation First International Award and a Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences award.
|1987||University of California, Berkeley||MA||Microbiology|
|1984||George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences||MD|
University of California, San Francisco
American Medical Women's Association Scholarship Achievement Citation
ICAAC Young Investigator Award (American Society for Microbiology)
|1994 to 1995||
Pierre Richard Dick-Virbac Foundation First International Award
|1994 to 1998||
Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences Grant
American Society for Clinical Investigation
Table of Contents
Family background. Living in Washington. Early interest in medicine. Early science experiments. Meaningful influences. Parental expectations. Religious upbringing. Religion and science. School. Influential teachers. Applying to colleges.
Attends Vassar College. Courses and influential professors. Social life. Struggle with Hashimoto's thyroiditis. Activities. Applying to medical and graduate schools.
Enters Ph.D. Program at University of California, Berkeley. Research in Terry Leighton's lab. Decides against Ph.D. Earns Master's degree in microbiology. Work as research associate. Re-taking the MCAT. Re-applies to medical schools. Accepted to George Washington Medical School. Joins National Health Service Corps. Meets husband Stephen X. Nahm. Moving to California. Academic family history. Siblings' education and lives. Impact of professional careers on women. Difficulties with having children for women scientists. Gender biases in academia. Importance of female mentors.
Choosing internal medicine Internship rotations. Interest in infectious diseases. Service obligations to National Health Service Corps. Residency at University of California, San Francisco. Camaraderie among female physicians.
Clinical infectious disease fellowship in Richard Stephens' lab. Identifies Bartonella quintana as causative agent of bacillary angiomatosis. Chlamydia trachomatis research. Research on bacillary Angiomatosis in Nina Agabian's lab. Looks for a job.
Employment and promotion structure at UCSF. Finding lab space. Grants. Teaching. Bartonella quintana epidemiology. Publication. Administrative responsibilities. Diversity of lab personnel. Work hours. Research with cat scratch fever. Typical day. Finding time for family. Gardening. Travel. Seeing patients. scientific discovery. Applications of research. Competition and collaboration. Ethics of falsifying data; human cloning; genetically modified foods. Regulating science. Goals. Challenges of academic research. Alternativecareer paths.