Andrew Koff

Born: September 7, 1962 | Jamaica, NY, US

Andrew Koff was born and in New York and attended State University of New York, Stony Brook for political science. He worked as a technician in Peter Tegtmeyer's lab on SV40 large T-antigen. He decided to remain at Stony Brook for his graduate studies, then took a postdoc in James M. Roberts's laboratory at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, studying cyclin E. He also collaborated with Joan Massague on cyclin E-CDK2 activity. Koff then accepted a position at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, where he focuses on p27 interactions and regulation, developing mouse models mimicking p27 activity, cyclins in meiosis, and angiogenesis. He discusses grant writing, peer review, the importance of understanding the history of one's field, pressures of publication, and more.

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0587
No. of pages: 97
Minutes: 400

Interview Sessions

William Van Benschoten
13-15 August 2002
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York

Abstract of Interview

Andrew Koff was born and raised in New York the elder child of four siblings, with three younger sisters. He attended Long Beach High School in New York, influenced by Jeffrey Elias, his high school biology teacher. Koff matriculated at the State University of New York, Stony Brook, majoring in political science. While an undergraduate he worked as a technician in Peter Tegtmeyer's lab on SV40 large T-antigen; he decided to remain at Stony Brook for his graduate studies and researched herpes simplex virus replication. From there he began a postdoctoral fellowship in James M. Roberts's laboratory at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle, Washington, studying cyclin E; he collaborated with Joan Massague on cyclin E-CDK2 activity. After Seattle, Koff accepted a position at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, New York, and focused his lab on p27 interactions and regulation, on developing mouse models mimicking p27 activity, on cyclins in meiosis, and on angiogenesis. The interview concludes with his thoughts on grant writing and the peer review process; balancing family and career; the importance of being familiar with the history and context of a particular field of research; the pressures of publication and production in the scientific community; dealing with a stutter; what it is like to be a primary investigator at a prestigious research institute; and the impact of the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences on his career.

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1985 State University of New York at Stony Brook BS Biochemistry
1990 State University of New York at Stony Brook PhD Molecular Microbiology

Professional Experience

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

1991 to 1993
Postdoctoral Fellow, Cell Cycle Regulation

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

1993
Assistant Member

Honors

Year(s) Award
1996 to 2000

Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences Grant

Table of Contents

Childhood, College, and Graduate School
1

Family background. Family life and his approach to scientific problems. Siblings. Influential grade school teacher. Pets. Influential high school biology teacher. Long Beach High School. State University of New York, Stony Brook. Majors in political science. Becomes interested in science while taking a biochemistry course. Public speaking. Extracurricular activities. Parental expectations. Works as a technician in Peter J. Tegtmeyer's lab on SV40 large Tantigen. Attends graduate school at State University of New York, Stony Brook in Tegtmeyer's laboratory. PhD research on herpes simplex virus replication.

Graduate Student Life and Postdoctoral Years
27

The Tegtmeyer laboratory. Life as a graduate student. The peer review system for journal articles. Postdoctoral fellowship in James M. Robert's laboratory at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle. Work on cyclin E. Collaboration with Joan Massague on cyclin E-CDK2 activity. Elizabeth Moffitt. Mark T. Groudine's influence. Course from Joseph R. Sambrook. More on human cyclinE and p27.

Faculty Years
47

Setting up his laboratory. Current research on p27 interactions and regulation, on developing mouse models mimicking p27 activity, on cyclins in meiosis, and on angiogenesis. Practical applications of his work. Teaching and administrative responsibilities.

Final Thoughts
57

Grant writing and the peer review process. Writing journal articles. Balancing family and career. Leisure activities. The advantages and disadvantages of competition and collaboration. The obligation of the scientist to the public. Partnerships between academia and industry. Gender issues in science. Impact of the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences.

Index
94

About the Interviewer

William Van Benschoten