Athan Kuliopulos

Born: October 6, 1961 | Lynn, MA, US

Athan Kuliopulos was raised in North Reading, Massachusetts. He worked as a science-assistant while in junior high, and in high school, his biology teacher encouraged him to pursue independent biological research-Kuliopolos chose to study bacterial growth and natural products that inhibit such growth. He matriculated at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he had his first publication with Charles W. Boylen. He then began work in James Coward's laboratory, studying enzyme kinetics. Next, he joined the MD/PhD program at Johns Hopkins University, where he undertook doctoral research on ketosteroid isomerase in Albert S. Mildvan and Paul Talalay's laboratories. At Tufts University-New England Medical Center, where he is today, he has focused his research on protease activated receptors and pepducins involved in blood coagulation and cell signaling.

Access This Interview

The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.

			

Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0588
No. of pages: 132
Minutes: 450

Interview Sessions

William Van Benschoten
2-4 December 2002
Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts

Abstract of Interview

Athan Kuliopulos was raised in North Reading, a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts, the middle child of three siblings in a close-knit Greek family. His mother worked as a secretary prior to having children, and then began doing so again once her kids were a older; his father received his undergraduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and his master's degree in electrical engineering from Boston University before working for Bell Laboratories. From an early age Kuliopolos was interested in all aspects of nature—entomology, geology, and meteorology—in the Boy Scouts, in stamp collecting, and playing with his friends and siblings. He enjoyed reading and science in school, working as a science-assistant while in junior high and spending time trying to make gunpowder as a chemistry experiment. In high school, Kuliopolos's biology teacher, Robert Gross, encouraged him to pursue independent biological research for a science fair project—Kuliopolos chose to study bacterial growth and natural products that inhibit such growth. He matriculated at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, where in his sophomore year he had his first publication with Charles W. Boylen (a map of bathymetry of Lake George). After taking James K. Coward's biochemistry course, Kuliopolos then began work in Coward's laboratory studying enzyme kinetics. From Rensselear he went on to the MD/PhD program at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, where he undertook doctoral research on ketosteroid isomerase in Albert S. Mildvan and Paul Talalay's laboratories (he also worked with David Shortle). After Hopkins, he moved into a postdoctoral position researching vitamin K carboxylase in Christopher T. Walsh's laboratory at MIT, and subsequently decided to study G-protein coupled receptors. He met and married his wife and then accepted a position at Tufts University-New England Medical Center, where he has focused his researched on protease activated receptors and pepducins involved in blood coagulation and cell signaling. The interview ends with Kuliopulos's thoughts on his clinical trial collaborations with industry; the process of writing journal articles; balancing family and career; the issue of patents; and the pros and cons of privatization of research. He also reflects on ethical questions in science; his course in the history of medicine during medical school; setting the national science agenda; the role of the scientist in setting public policy; and the role of the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences in his work.

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1983 Rensselaer Polytechnic University BS Biology
1989 Johns Hopkins University PhD Biochemistry, Cellular, and Molecular Biology
1989 Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine MD

Professional Experience

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

1989 to 1990
Postdoctoral Training

Harvard Medical School

1990 to 1994
Postdoctoral Training

Tufts University

1994 to 2002
Assistant Professor of Medicine
1994 to 2002
Assistant Professor of Biochemistry
1995
Sackler School of Biomedical Sciences
2002
Associate Professor of Medicine
2002
Associate Professor of Biochemistry
2002
Associate Professor of Genetics

Honors

Year(s) Award
1983

magna cum laude, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

1983 to 1989

Trainee of the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP), National Institutes of Health

1989

Paul Ehrlich Award for Basic Science Research, Johns Hopkins Medical School

1991 to 1993

Judith Graham Pool Postdoctoral Fellowship, National Hemophilia
Foundation

1993 to 1994

NRSA, National Institutes of Health

1996 to 1998

American Society of Hematology Scholar Award

1996 to 2000

Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences Grant

1998 to 1999

GRASP Award, National Institutes of Health

2000 to 2001

New England Medical Center Research Fund Award

2001 to 2003

Cancer Center Research Award, New England Medical Center

Table of Contents

Childhood and High School
1

North Reading, Massachusetts. Family background. Childhood experiences. Parents. Siblings. Interests and hobbies. Parental expectations. Reading. Early schooling. Middle and high school in North Reading. Influential teacher. First research project.

College and Medical and Graduate School
32

Interest in sailing. Religion. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Publication with Charles W. Boylen during his sophomore year. Defining moment in a biochemistry course taught by James K. Coward. Works on enzyme kinetics in Coward's laboratory. The MD/PhD program at Johns Hopkins University. Doctoral research on ketosteroid isomerase in Albert S. Mildvan and Paul Talalay's laboratories. Work with David Shortle. Social life as an MD/PhD student.

Postdoctorate and Faculty Years
51

Postdoctoral fellowship with Christopher T. Walsh. Walsh's laboratory management style. Postdoctoral work on vitamin K carboxylase. Decides to work on G-protein coupled receptors. Meets and marries his wife. His children. Accepts a position at Tufts University-New England Medical Center. Tenure. Setting up his laboratory. His wife and her career. Current research on proteaseactivated receptors and pepducins involved in blood coagulation and cell signaling. Broader applications of his work.

Final Thoughts
81

Teaching responsibilities. Administrative duties. Clinical trial collaborations. Funding. Writing journal articles. His mentoring style. Balancing family and career. Leisure activities. Future research on protease activated receptors and cancer. Patents. Competition and collaboration in science. The national scienceAgenda. Public policy. Gender issues. The Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences grant.

Index
127

About the Interviewer

William Van Benschoten