Pradip Raychaudhuri

Born: January 4, 1958 | Calcutta, IN

Pradip Raychaudhuri grew up in Calcutta, India. His grandfather influenced him in mathematics, working problems with him from an early age. His father inspired his interest in the Hindu religion, believing Hinduism and science were compatible. Raychaudhuri attended Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, where he studied protein synthesis in Umadas Maitra's lab. Next, he accepted a postdoc in the Joseph R. Nevins lab at Rockefeller University, where he showed that E1A activates transcription factors by removing tumor suppressors. He discusses funding difficulties, grant writing, balancing clinical and basic science, and recent funding history. After three years as a postdoctoral fellow at Duke University Raychaudhuri accepted an assistant professorship at the University of Illinois College of Medicine; he has since received tenure. 

Access This Interview

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

			

Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0550
No. of pages: 71
Minutes: 351

Interview Sessions

Andrea R. Maestrejuan
1-2 November 1997
University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

Abstract of Interview

Pradip Raychaudhuri grew up in Calcutta (Kolkata), India, the oldest of seven children. His father was a pharmacist, his mother a housewife. As a youngster he played cricket and soccer and followed the professional teams. His father wanted him to be a surgeon, but he was more interested in mathematics and the physical sciences. Raychaudhuri's maternal grandfather influenced him greatly in mathematics, working problems with him from an early age. His father inspired his interest in the Hindu religion and in philosophy, believing that Hinduism and science are compatible. Reading about scientists engaged his interest in being a scientist, and he performed well at school in the subjects he liked. Because he felt that the Indian system of graduate education was not as good as in the United States, he decided to study here. Raychaudhuri applied to several universities in the United States; he chose Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in part because he had heard talks from an Indian and an American who were at Einstein. He began studying protein synthesis in Umadas Maitra's lab, working in the lab around the clock. As an undergraduate he had been interested in cancer research, and he shifted back to it from enzymology. Homesick at first, he struggled with American culture in addition to finding the program at Einstein rigorous. He met his wife, Srilata Bagchi, a postdoc at Einstein, and they married after he completed his thesis defense. Raychaudhuri accepted a postdoc in the Joseph R. Nevins lab at Rockefeller University. There he showed that E1A activates transcription factors by removing tumor suppressors. Working in a competitive field, Raychaudhuri had to devise research projects that would enable him to compete against larger labs. He began studying the E2F-Rb complex's relationship to tumor suppressors and investigating whether replication gene expression is regulated through damaged DNA binding. Drug resistance in cancer patients was an important stimulus to Raychaudhuri's desire to find clinical applications for his research. Explaining his failure to obtain funding to determine an RNA-binding protein's relationship to Rb led to a discussion of grant writing, of the balance between clinical and basic science, and of his recent funding history and future funding prospects. After three years as a postdoctoral fellow at Duke University Raychaudhuri accepted an assistant professorship at the University of Illinois College of Medicine; he has since received tenure. He concluded the interview talking about taking his daughter to the lab; his reasons for remaining in the United States; the need to publicize one's science; the quality of graduate students and postdocs at Illinois; the need for the university to improve the quality of its scientists and research; and his definition of good science. The interview ended with an explanation of the impact of the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences funding and annual meeting on his career. 

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1980 Calcutta University BS Chemistry
1983 Albert Einstein College of Medicine MS Molecular Biology
1986 Albert Einstein College of Medicine PhD Molecular Biology

Professional Experience

The Rockefeller University

1986 to 1987
Postdoctoral Fellow

Duke University

1987 to 1990
Postdoctoral Fellow

University of Illinois at Chicago

1990 to 1996
Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry
1996 to 1998
Associate Professor, Department of Biochemistry

Honors

Year(s) Award
1986 to 1989

Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell Cancer Research Fellow

1992 to 1996

Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences

1986 to 1989

Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell Cancer Research Fellow

Table of Contents

Early Years
1

Family background. Growing up in Calcutta. Parental expectations. Interest in math and the physical sciences. Grandfathers. Hindu upbringing.

High School, College Years, and Graduate School
12

Participation in the Hindu cultural community in the United States. Introduces daughter to Hinduism. View that religion and science are not mutually exclusive. Early interest in being a scientist. Performs well at school. The Indian system of higher education. Decides to study in the United States. Develops an interest in doing cancer research. Applies to universities in the United States. Enters Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. Rigorous program at Einstein. Begins studying protein synthesis in Umadas Maitra's lab. Shifts from enzymology to cancer research. American culture.

Reflections on Childhood and Postdoctoral Years
31

As a boy, assists in his father's pharmacy. Extended family. Improving his English language skills. Graduate research. Enters the Joseph R. Nevins lab as a postdoctoral student. Meets and marries Srilata Bagchi. Studies the oncogeneE1A. Shows that E1A activates transcription factors by removing tumor suppressors. Competition. Devises research projects that enable him to compete against larger labs. Studying the E2F-Rb complex's relationship to tumor suppressors. Investigating whether replication gene expression is regulated through damaged DNA binding. Drug resistance in cancer patients. Desire to find clinical applications for his research. Grant writing. Balance betweenclinical and basic science.

Faculty Years and Thoughts about Science
48

Future funding prospects. Public versus private funding sources. The financial costs of doing risky science. Arrives at the University of Illinois College of Medicine. Receives tenure. Working with his wife in the lab. The issue of gender in the lab. Taking his daughter to the lab. Raychaudhuri's reasons for remaining in the United States. The need to publicize one's science. The qualityof graduate students and postdocs at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine. The definition of good science. Developing ideas instead of technology. The Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences and the annual meetings.

Index
69

About the Interviewer

Andrea R. Maestrejuan