Charles M. Rice

Born: August 25, 1952 | Sacramento, CA, US

Charles Rice grew up in California. He attended University of California, Davis where he majored in zoology while there he worked for Dennis Barrett and spent summers at Woods Hole Marine Biology Laboratory. For graduate school Rice decided on the California Institute of Technology, where he worked in James Strauss’ lab on RNA viruses. He continued in that lab as a postdoc, collaborating with Henry Huang on Sindbis virus and beginning to work on the yellow fever virus vaccine strain. Rice accepted a position at Washington University in St. Louis, continuing to collaborate with Henry Huang and Sondra Schlesinger. His lab continues his work in RNA viruses and has recently begun work on hepatitis C. Rice’s overall objective is to learn how to inhibit virus replication without harming the hosts.

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0749
No. of pages: 37
Minutes: 175

Interview Sessions

Robert Kohler and Richard Sawyer
7 May 1990
Washington University Medical Center, St. Louis, Missouri

Abstract of Interview

Charles Rice grew up in California. His father was an insurance adjuster and his mother a housewife. He intended to be veterinarian, so he entered University of California, Davis where he majored in zoology while there he worked for Dennis Barrett and spent summers at Woods Hole Marine Biology Laboratory. He loved Spanish language and literature; after graduation he traveled in Latin America before he returned to be a teaching assistant for the Physiology Course at Woods Hole.

For graduate school Rice decided on the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), where he worked in James Strauss’ lab on RNA viruses. He continued in that lab as a postdoc, collaborating with Henry Huang on Sindbis virus and beginning to work on the yellow fever virus vaccine strain.

After a mini sabbatical with Lynn Dalgarno in Australia, Rice accepted a position at Washington University in St. Louis. There he continued to collaborate with Henry Huang and Sondra Schlesinger. He had fewer administrative duties than at other institutions; and a broader swath of science and scientists. He feels he is still learning how to manage his lab, but hopes to develop his students into independent and creative thinkers. His lab continues his work in RNA viruses and has recently begun work on hepatitis C. Rice’s overall objective is to learn how to inhibit virus replication without harming the hosts.

Rice discusses the influence of Caltech. He explains his lab composition, his management style, and how his collaborations enriched his science. He loves bench work but is not so fond of administrative duties. He does not like fashionable science or having to spend so much time seeking grants and believes that the current discouraging state of funding agencies is turning away good people. He stresses importance of basic science. He may work more intensively on hepatitis C and thinks Sindbis has other uses as model system.

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1974 University of California, Davis BS Zoology
1981 California Institute of Technology PhD Biochemistry

Professional Experience

California Institute of Technology

1981 to 1984
Postdoctorate, Virology

Australian National University

1985
Visiting Fellow, Biochemistry

Washington University School of Medicine

1986 to 1991
Assistant Professor, Microbiology and Immunology

Honors

Year(s) Award
1975 to 1977

California State Scholarship

1975 to 1979

Earle C. Anthony Fellowship

1975 to 1980

Graduate Research Assistantship, California Institute of Technology

1979

National Institutes of Health Predoctoral Traineeship

1980 to 1981

California Institute of Technology Fellowship

1981 to 1982

Gosney Research Fellowship

1986 to 1990

Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences Award

Table of Contents

Early Years
1

Grew up in California. Planned to become veterinarian. 

College Years
4

Entered University of California, Davis, majored in zoology. Biology class with Dennis Barrett. Summers at Woods Hole Marine Biology Laboratory. Experiences in Latin America after graduation. Teaching assistant at Woods Hole.

Graduate School and Postdoctoral Work
8

Entered James Strauss’ lab at California Institute of Technology. Thesis work on virion envelope proteins. Continued postdoctoral work in Strauss’ lab. Collaborated with Henry Huang on Sindbis virus and sequenced yellow fever virus as model system for other flaviviruses. Australia sabbatical.

First Independent Lab
22

Accepted position at Washington University in St. Louis. Lab management. Day to day activity. Hepatitis C research

General Thoughts
30

Loves bench work. Lab administration and teaching. Future plans. 

Index
36

About the Interviewer

Robert Kohler
Richard Sawyer