Linda C. Meade-Tollin

Born: August 16, 1944 | London, WV, US

Linda C. Meade-Tollin was born and raised in London, West Virginia, one of two children. Her father was a dentist and a community activist, her mother a teacher of languages and a guidance counselor. Always enthusiastically encouraged by parents and teachers, Meade-Tollin did well in school, skipping two grades. When she was in ninth grade her high school was integrated, and the three top graduates in her year were black women. Although there were no science classes in her schools until high school, Meade-Tollin was always interested in science, and when she entered West Virginia State College she decided to major in chemistry. She worked at Harlem and Bellevue Hospitals before entering a chemistry PhD program at the City University of New York (CUNY) at the age of twenty one; a year later she transferred to a program in biochemistry. During her graduate career, Meade-Tollin spent time teaching and she traveled among the various CUNY campuses to do research with Burton Tropp-her doctoral thesis dealt with gene expression in  E. coli. Meade-Tollin's first faculty appointment was at the College at Old Westbury, and, for part of her time there, she was also a visiting assistant professor at Rockefeller University, working on sickle cell anemia in Anthony Cerami's lab. She applied for and received a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral award at the University of Arizona; at the end of her award at Arizona, Meade-Tollin married and she also decided to stay at the University. She was the only African-American woman to head a biomedical research laboratory at the University for many years; her areas of research focused on DNA damage, angiogenesis, and cancer invasion and metastasis. During this time she developed a reproducible and physiologically relevant bioassay for angiogenic inhibitors and enhancers suitable for drug discovery screening, and she spent a year as Faculty Development Fellow at Morehouse School of Medicine. 

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0672
No. of pages: 24

Interview Sessions

Jeannette E. Brown
1 October 2009
Tucson, Arizona

Abstract of Interview

Linda C. Meade-Tollin was born and raised in London, West Virginia, one of two children.  Her father was a dentist and a community activist, her mother a teacher of languages and a guidance counselor.  Always enthusiastically encouraged by parents and teachers, Meade-Tollin did well in school, skipping two grades.  When she was in ninth grade her high school was integrated, and the three top graduates in her year were black women.  Although there were no science classes in her schools until high school, Meade-Tollin was always interested in science, and when she entered West Virginia State College she decided to major in chemistry.  She worked at Harlem and Bellevue Hospitals before entering a chemistry PhD program at the City University of New York (CUNY) at the age of twenty one; a year later she transferred to a program in biochemistry.  During her graduate career, Meade-Tollin spent time teaching and she traveled among the various CUNY campuses to do research with Burton Tropp—her doctoral thesis dealt with gene expression in E. coli.

Meade-Tollin’s first faculty appointment was at the College at Old Westbury, and, for part of her time there, she was also a visiting assistant professor at Rockefeller University, working on sickle cell anemia in Anthony Cerami’s lab.  She met her future husband, Gordon Tollin, while he was on sabbatical from the University of Arizona at Bell Laboratories and Rockefeller University.  She applied for and received a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral award at the University of Arizona; at the end of her award at Arizona, Meade-Tollin married and she also decided to stay at the University.  She held several research, teaching, and administrative appointments there while also caring for elderly parents in her home.  She was the only African-American woman to head a biomedical research laboratory at the University for many years; her areas of research focused on DNA damage, angiogenesis, and cancer invasion and metastasis.  During this time she developed a reproducible and physiologically relevant bioassay for angiogenic inhibitors and enhancers suitable for drug discovery screening, and she spent a year as Faculty Development Fellow at Morehouse School of Medicine.  Meade-Tollin has done many things in her career, but she considers her training and mentoring her greatest accomplishments. 

She retired as a Research Assistant Professor Emerita in 2008.  Now in retirement, Meade-Tollin is enjoying family, travel, health and fitness activities, and spiritual development.  She is also Director of Anti-Metastasis Research for a biotech company, Cure Cancer Worldwide Corporation, and a consultant to Wish, a nutritional counseling company.

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1964 West Virginia State College BS Chemistry
1969 City University of New York, Hunter College MA Biochemistry
1972 City University of New York PhD Biochemistry

Professional Experience

Barnard College

1972
Lecturer, Chemistry Section

College at Old Westbury, SUNY

1972 to 1975
Assistant Professor

The Rockefeller University

1973 to 1974
Visiting Assistant Professor

University of Arizona

1977
Research Associate, Biochemistry
1978 to 1982
Research Associate, Microbiology
1982 to 1985
Visiting Assistant Professor, Chemistry
1987 to 1992
Senior Lecturer, Biochemistry
1987 to 1989
Assistant Research Scientist, Anatomy
1989 to 1990
Research Assistant Professor, Anatomy
1990 to 1994
Research Assistant Professor, University of Arizona Cancer Center
1994 to 1995
Research Assistant Professor, Surgery
1996 to 2010
Research Assistant Professor, Surgery
2000 to 2008
Member/Associate Member, University of Arizona Cancer Center
2008 to 2010
Research Assistant Professor Emerita, Surgery

Morehouse School of Medicine

1985 to 1986
Faculty Development Fellow

Honors

Year(s) Award
1991 to 1993

NIH/NCI Minority Investigator Supplement

1994 to 1996

NIH/NHLBI Minority Investigator Supplement

1996 to 2001

NIH/NHLBI K14 Mentored Faculty Career Development Award

1998

Henry Hill Award for outstanding research from the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers

2002

AACR Minority Scholar Travel Award

2006

Inducted into the African Scientific Institute

2008

Retired from the University of Arizona College of Medicine as a Research Assistant Professor Emerita

Table of Contents

Early Years
1

Growing up in London, West Virginia. Parents. Good in school. Science classes in high school. Integration.

College Years
5

Entered West Virginia State College at only sixteen. Bachelor's degree in chemistry at nineteen. Alpha Kappa Alpha. Spent year at Bellevue and Harlem Hospitals. Loved learning. Decided to combine chemistry and biology in biochemistry graduate work.

Graduate School in New York City
8

Entered City College of New York. Lived briefly with aunt in Harlem. Traveled among the CCNY campuses. Worked with Maria Tomasz and Burton Tropp. Obtained PhD; thesis dealt with gene expression in E. coli.

Entering Job Market
12

Assistant professor at College at Old Westbury. Visiting assistant professor at Rockefeller University. Meets future husband. Works on sickle cell anemia in Anthony Cerami's lab.

University of Arizona
14

Moves to Arizona, marries. Research Associate at University of Arizona. Cares for elderly parents. Daughter. Faculty Development Fellow at Morehouse School of Medicine. Women in Science and Engineering. Research in angiogenesis. NOBCChE. Grants.

Advice
20

Need network of mentors. Seek help getting grants. Find structure that helps new faculty progress. Keep track of goals. Focus. Volunteer; ask what you can do.

Post-retirement interests
22

Nature of human consciousness. Continuing to learn about many things. Tai Chi. Grandchildren.

Index
23

About the Interviewer

Jeannette E. Brown

Jeannette E. Brown has a research MS degree from the University of Minnesota and a BS degree in the Field of Chemistry from Hunter College. She started her industrial career at CIBA Pharmaceutical Co. as a junior chemist, working there for eleven years, and she held the position of Research Chemist at Merck & Co. Inc. for 25 years. Brown is a former Faculty Associate in the department of Pre-College Programs at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, holding the title of New Jersey Statewide Systemic Initiative (NJSSI) Regional Director. She was appointed to the National Science Foundation Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women Minorities and Persons with Disabilities (CEOSE) and served on that committee for six years. She is the 2005 recipient of the American Chemical Society Dreyfus Award for mentoring minorities in science and she is currently working on a book about the history of African-American women chemists.