Carolyn E. Machamer

Born: May 21, 1953 | Detroit, MI, US

Carolyn E. Machamer was born near Detroit, Michigan, and showed early interest in biology. She attended Bucknell University, taking all the science courses on offer, working on acrosomes in Sally Nyquist's lab. Machamer took a fellowship at Duke University and began work on SSPE virus. She worked in Peter Cresswell's lab, where she finished her thesis research on major histocompatibility complex antigens. She then took a postdoc at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, where she worked in John K. Rose's lab, studying M glycoprotein and RNA viruses. Improved technology allowed a breakthrough in her coronavirus research, which she published after moving to Yale University, where she stayed for about a year. Machamer then joined the faculty of Johns Hopkins University, where she remains today. 

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0487
No. of pages: 206
Minutes: 550

Interview Sessions

Neil D. Hathaway
3-4 and 6-7 May 1994
Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland

Abstract of Interview

Carolyn E. Machamer was born and grew up in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan, the oldest of three sisters. Her extended family, mother's in California and father's in Pennsylvania, remains close. Her father was a microbiologist who met Carolyn's mother in San Diego, California while he was "collecting soil samples" for an oil company. After they married they moved to Detroit, where Mr. Machamer took a position at Parke, Davis. Although the family had a division of labor typical for that time, all three sisters attended excellent colleges and are very successful. Perhaps subconsciously inspired by her father, Carolyn evinced an early interest in science, particularly biology. She attended Bucknell University, taking all the science courses on offer and finishing with a major in biology. While at Bucknell, she worked on acrosomes in Sally Nyquist's lab Later she worked on BUDR and virus replication at the Michigan Cancer Foundation and then on poliovirus at National Cancer Institute. Machamer took a fellowship at Duke University and began work on SSPE virus. Her PhD was delayed by insufficient technology at the time and by the leavetaking of Hans J. Zweerink, her lab boss. She moved to Peter Cresswell's lab, where she finished her thesis research on major histocompatibility complex antigens. From Duke she went to a postdoc at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. There she worked in John K. Rose's lab, studying M glycoprotein and RNA viruses. Improved technology allowed a breakthrough in her coronavirus research, which she published after moving to Yale University, where she stayed for about a year. From Yale Machamer went to the faculty of Johns Hopkins University, where she remains today. She enjoys teaching in the medical school and directing the journal club, and of course she loves being in the lab. Her current research involves sphingolipids and compartmentalization in the Golgi. 

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1975 Bucknell University BS Biology
1983 Duke University PhD

Professional Experience

Duke University

1983
Research Associate, Division of Immunology

Salk Institute for Biological Studies

1983 to 1986
Postdoctoral Fellow

Yale University School of Medicine

1987 to 1988
Associate Research Scientist, Department of Pathology

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

1988 to 1994
Assistant Professor
1994 to 1995
Associate Professor

Honors

Year(s) Award
1976

National Institutes of Health Special Achievement Award

1976 to 1981

National Institutes of Health Predoctoral Fellowship

1984 to 1986

National Institutes of Health Individual Postdoctoral National Research Service Award

1990 to 1994

Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences

Table of Contents

Early Years
1

Growing up in suburb of Detroit, Michigan. Father's work as microbiologist at Parke, Davis; then in administrative work there. Early interest in science. Close relations with mother's family in California and father's in Pennsylvania

Undergraduate Years
19

Choosing Bucknell University. Working at the Michigan Cancer Foundation lab. Undergraduate research on acrosomes with Sally Nyquist. Biology faculty at Bucknell. Women's labs. Reading interests. Machamer's project at the Michigan Cancer Foundation; working on BUDR and virus replication Working on poliovirus in Nathaniel A. Young's lab at the National Cancer Institute inspires her interest in virology. Young's death and Machamer's attempts to prepare hisresearch for publication.

Graduate Years
53

Accepting fellowship at Duke University. Working on subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) virus in the Hans J. Zweerink lab. Technology for studying the SSPE virus in the 1970s. How Zweerink's decision to leave Duke affected Machamer. Peter Cresswell allows Machamer to continue her measles virus research in his lab. Machamer's thesis research on biosynthesis of class IImajor histocompatibility complex antigens. Choosing a thesis project.

Postgraduate Years
89

Postdoc in John K. Rose's lab at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. Rose's early sequencing of vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) genes. Machamer's unsuccessful attempt at expressing the cDNA for infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) M glycoprotein. Glycosylation. Creating new sites for carbohydrates on proteins. Different VSV strains' varying dependence on carbohydrates. Comparing viral and cellular protein studies. Studying RNA viruses. Breakthroughs in Machamer's coronavirus research due to better antibodies and a new vaccinia vector system. Funding and tenure at the Salk. Machamer's move to Yale. Publishing her coronavirus research.

Faculty Position at Johns Hopkins
168

Machamer's interest in teaching. Teaching responsibilities at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Directing the journal club. Delays in getting her lab set up. Sphingolipid research with technician Ann M. Swift. More on sphingolipid research--Edward B. Cluett's project in the lab. Compartmentalization in the Golgi complex.

Index
202

About the Interviewer

Neil D. Hathaway