Matthew L. Meyerson

Born: June 4, 1963 | Boston, MA, US

Matthew L. Meyerson was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the youngest of three children. His family moved several times before finally settling in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, when Matthew was seven. Meyerson's interest in science began early:  he loved to collect rocks and minerals and thought he might become a geologist. He decided early to attend Harvard University. He did research on quinones during college in Leslie Dutton's laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania and on enzyme evolution in Steven Benner's laboratory at Harvard. He spent a year in Japan at the University of Kyoto and then began medical school. Meyerson entered the joint health sciences and technology graduate program at Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Meyerson pursued doctoral research on cyclin-dependent kinases involved in cell-cycle regulation in Edward Harlow's laboratory at Harvard. Meyerson accepted a postdoctoral fellowship on cell immortalization in Robert Weinberg's laboratory at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), then accepted a position at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and set up his lab to accord with his decision to work on lung cancer genetics. Meyerson discusses his research on cancer genomics, functional biochemistry, and computational subtraction genetic analysis; and broader applications of his work genetically targeting drug treatment for lung cancer. 

Access This Interview

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

			

Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0618
No. of pages: 107
Minutes: 401

Interview Sessions

Karen A. Frenkel
17-19 January 2006
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts and Broad Institute, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Abstract of Interview

Matthew L. Meyerson was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the youngest of three children. His family moved several times before finally settling in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, when Matthew was seven. His parents were both academics in city planning and then college professors. His father became president of State University of New York at Buffalo and then the University of Pennsylvania; he was the first Jewish president of a major university. His mother taught sociology and then was on Philadelphia's City Planning Commission. Meyerson's interest in science began early: he loved to collect rocks and minerals and thought he might become a geologist. His first influential teacher was his fourth-grade teacher, who had the students do science experiments. His ninth-grade biology teacher was especially inspiring. His extracurricular activities included fencing, at which he was competitive; running; and exploring the outdoors. He also played the piano. He read extensively and still loves to read. He decided early to attend Harvard University. College experiences included an overwhelming math class that cemented his resolve to become an experimental scientist, rather than a theoretical scientist. He did research on quinones during college in Leslie Dutton's laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania and on enzyme evolution in Steven Benner's laboratory at Harvard. He spent a year in Japan at the University of Kyoto and then began medical school. Meyerson entered the joint health sciences and technology graduate program at Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His medical school experiences included meeting his future wife, who was also a medical student. Meyerson pursued doctoral research on cyclin-dependent kinases involved in cell-cycle regulation in Edward Harlow's laboratory at Harvard. He did his residency in clinical pathology. Meanwhile, he and his wife, by now doing her own residency in pediatrics, began their family, which eventually grew to four children. Meyerson accepted a postdoctoral fellowship on cell immortalization in Robert Weinberg's laboratory at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Here he discusses the running of the Harlow lab; the process of conducting scientific research; his collaboration with Christopher Counter at MIT on telomerase genes in yeast; and his work in cell-cycle genetics identifying human telomerase gene activity and cell immortalization. He compares Weinberg's mentoring style with his own. Meyerson accepted a position at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and set up his lab to accord with his decision to work on lung-cancer genetics. He talks about the running of his lab and about his funding history. Meyerson discusses his research on cancer genomics, functional biochemistry, and computational subtraction genetic analysis; and broader applications of his work genetically targeting drug treatment for lung cancer. Meyerson's current research is focused on genomics sequencing cancer causing mutations. He talks about the process of writing journal articles; his role in the lab and his management style; his teaching responsibilities and philosophy; science versus religion; foreign students in science; and being a principal investigator. He answers questions about the grant-writing process; how he would go about setting the national science agenda; his view of the issue of patents; and David Livingston's mentorship. Meyerson concludes by explaining his professional and personal goals and talking about the difficulty balancing family and career.

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1985 Harvard College AB Chemistry and Physics
1993 Harvard Medical School MD
1994 Harvard University PhD Biophysics

Professional Experience

Massachusetts General Hospital

1994 to 1996
Residency in Clinical Pathology
1998 to 2007
Consultant in Pathology

Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research

1995 to 1998
Assistant Professor of Pathology

Harvard Medical School

1998 to 2005
Assistant Professor of Pathology

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

1998 to 2004
Scientific co-director, Belfer Center for Cancer Genomics
1998 to 2005
Assistant Professor of Pathology
2005 to 2007
Associate Professor of Pathology

Harvard University-Massachusetts Institute of Technology Division of Health Sciences and Technology

2004 to 2007
Member of the Affiliated Faculty

Broad Institute

2004 to 2007
Associate Member

Honors

Year(s) Award
1987 to 1993

Medical Scientist Training Program Fellowship

1990 to 1991

Johnson and Johnson HST Research Fellowship

1995 to 1998

Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell Foundation Physician-ScientistFellowship

1998 to 2001

Claudia Adams Barr Investigator Award, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

1999 to 2003

Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences Award Recipient

Table of Contents

Childhood and College
1

Family background. Childhood interests and experiences. Early interest inscience. Influential teachers in grade school and high school. His siblings. Attends high school at Andover, Massachusetts. Extracurricular activities. Religion. Attends Harvard University. College experiences. Research duringcollege in Leslie Dutton's laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania and StevenBenner's laboratory at Harvard. Year in Japan at the University of Kyoto. Challenges of a career in science.

Medical School, Graduate School, and Postdoctoral Work
17

Attends an M.D./Ph.D. program held jointly at Harvard University andMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Joint health sciences and technologygraduate program. Medical school experiences. Meets future wife. Doctoralresearch on cyclin-dependent kinases involved in cell-cycle regulation in EdwardHarlow's laboratory at Harvard. Residency in clinical pathology. Harlow'smentoring style. Postdoctoral fellowship on cell immortalization in RobertWeinberg's laboratory at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Processof conducting scientific research. Collaboration at MIT with ChristopherCounter on telomerase genes in yeast. Work in cell-cycle genetics identifyinghuman telomerase gene activity and cell immortalization. Robert Weinberg'smentoring style.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Research
52

Accepts a position at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Setting up lab. Decisionto work on lung-cancer genetics. Funding history. Research on cancer genomics,functional biochemistry, and computational subtraction genetic analysis. Collaborations. Broader application of work genetically targeting drug treatmentfor lung cancer. Current research in genomics sequencing cancer causingmutations. Writing journal articles. Role in the lab.

Laboratory Life and Thoughts about Science
73

Lab management style. Teaching responsibilities. Teaching philosophy. Scienceand religion. Foreign students as science graduate students and postdoctoralfellows. Grant-writing process. Setting the national science agenda. Patents. David Livingston's mentorship. Balancing family and career. The percentage ofwomen as graduate students and principal investigators. Professional andpersonal goals.

Index
104

About the Interviewer

Karen A. Frenkel

Karen A. Frenkel is a writer, documentary producer, and author specializing in science and technology and their impacts on society. She wrote Robots: Machines in Man’s Image (Harmony 1985) with Isaac Asimov. Her articles have appeared in many magazines and newspapers including The New York TimesCyberTimesBusiness Week, Communications Magazine, DiscoverForbesNew Media, Personal Computing, Scientific American, Scientific American MIND, The Village Voice, and Technology Review. Ms. Frenkel’s award-winning documentary films, Net Learning and Minerva’s Machine: Women and Computing aired on Public Television. She has been an interviewer for Columbia University’s Oral History Research Center’s 9/11 Narrative and Memory project, The National Press Foundation’s Oral History of Women in Journalism, and the International Psychoanalytic Institute for Training and Research’s Oral History. Professional memberships include: The Authors Guild, National Association of Science Writers, Writer’s Guild of America East, and New York Women in Film and Television: Past Member of the Board and Director of Programming. Her website is www.Karenafrenkel.com.