Paul M. MacDonald
The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
Paul M. Macdonald was born in Denver, Colorado, to a forensic psychologist from New Zealand and an American nurse. He has an older sister, who is a dean at William and Mary College, and a younger brother. He grew up as much outdoors as he could manage; uninterested in school and preferring skiing, bicycling, backpacking, and rock climbing to studying, he decided to attend Colorado State University's forestry school. During summers he worked for the Youth Conservation Corps in Colorado and then in California. Continuing his uninspired high-school pattern, he remained a poor and undirected student until his last year, when he had a class with Larry Hopwood in radiation biology. He loved the class and asked to work in a lab. Because of his excellent GRE scores and his lab work he was a candidate for graduate school. He went to Georgia Tech partly because it had faculty who interested him and because he wanted to distance himself from his usual outdoor distractions. He worked on bacteriophage mutant in Dwight H. Hall's lab to finish his Master's degree. Then he applied to Vanderbilt for a PhD in molecular bio techniques under Gisela Mosig; Lee Rowen taught him recombinant DNA techniques, and he finished his PhD He accepted a postdoc at Harvard, working in Tom Maniatis's lab. He worked with Gary Struhl there, identifying proteins involved in adh gene expression and with molecular gradient in Drosophila embryos. He went to Colulmbia as a postdoc with Struhl. From there he accepted a faculty position at Stanford University. His work included studying how molecules that control patterning are localized; comparing RNA sequences from different Drosophila species; redundancy of information in Drosophila RNA, and the role of chance in his mRNA oskar research. Macdonald has published many articles, continues at Stanford to run and work in his lab, teaches, and attempts to balance all this with his life at home with his wife and infant son.
|1978||Colorado State University||BS|
|1980||Georgia Institute of Technology||MS|
|1981 to 1983||
Predoctoral Fellow, National Institutes of Health Cellular-Molecular Biology Graduate Training Program
|1984 to 1986||
Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell Postdoctoral Fellowship
|1990 to 1993||
Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences
|1990 to 1994||
David and Lucile Packard Fellowship
Table of Contents
Born and raised in Denver, Colorado, with a sister and a brother. Always interested in the outdoors; loves skiing, biking, backpacking, rock climbing; dislikes school and studying. Summer employment with the Youth Conservation Corps. His shyness asan adolescent.
Enters Colorado State University in the forestry department; switches to pre-med; then just drifts, unable to engage with school, though he has one interesting course in biochemistry, where a guest speaker discusses recombinant DNA, new at the time. In his last year he discovers radiation biology and becomes excited at last; works in radiation biology lab; decides to go to graduate school
Enters master's program at Georgia Institute of Technology. Characterizing a bacteriophage mutant in the Dwight H. Hall laboratory. Transfers to Vanderbilt University to pursue Ph.D. under Gisela Mosig. Develops expertise in molecular biological techniques in Mosig's lab. Learns recombinant DNA techniques from Lee Rowen courses.
Accepts a postdoc in Tom Maniatis' lab at Harvard University. Meets Gary Struhl. Unsuccessfully attempts to identify proteins involved in Adh gene expression. Characterizes homeobox-containing genes with Struhl. Problems with the argument that caudal gene products are present in a gradient in the early embryo. Collaborating on research with Struhl. Demonstrating molecular gradient in Drosophila embryos.
Accepts a postdoc in Struhl's lab at Columbia University. Fellow postdocs in the Struhl lab. Relationship with Struhl.
Accepts a position at the Department of Biological Sciences at Stanford University. Macdonald's start-up package. The difficulty of attracting good graduate students to his lab. Interactions with colleagues at Stanford and with other scientists in the San Francisco Bay Area. Stanford's tenure review process--Administration and bureaucratic regulations at Stanford. Macdonald's transition from postdoc to principal investigator. His Drosophila stocks. Drosophila RNA. More on translational regulation. Benefits of working with Drosophila. Competition among Drosophila researchers.