Philip M. Rosoff

Born: October 17, 1952 | Philadelphia, PA, US

Philip M. Rosoff attended New York University, majoring in biology. For medical school, Rosoff chose Case Western Reserve University, which started its medical students in clinical work in their first year. He found he liked and was good at medicine, but a lingering interest in science persisted. Impressed by three pediatricians who practiced medicine and worked in science, he went to Boston Children’s Hospital for his residency. In his last year he began working in hematology/oncology with Harvey Cohen, staying at Boston Children’s Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Center. Rosoff also spent time in Vicki Sato’s immunology lab and Lewis Cantley’s lab, working in the biochemistry of cell signaling. Rosoff accepted an assistant professorship at Tufts University and decided to change his clinical status to science. Rosoff discusses his calcium channel project and possible collaboration with another Pew Scholar, Michael Snyder.

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0761
No. of pages: 42
Minutes: 140

Interview Sessions

Susan M. Lindee and Sarah Goldfine
4 March 1991
Coronado, California

Abstract of Interview

Philip M. Rosoff grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His parents were both college-educated and put a high value on education; as a result they sent Rosoff to Friends Select School. He entered New York University (NYU), majoring in biology. He became interested in neuroscience, but he stuck with premed courses in order to please his parents.

For medical school Rosoff chose Case Western Reserve University, which started its medical students in clinical work in their first year. He found he liked and was good at medicine, but he still wanted to do science. Attracted to pediatrics and impressed by three pediatricians who did medicine and science, he went to Boston Children’s Hospital for his residency. In his last year he began working in hematology/oncology with Harvey Cohen, staying at Boston Children’s Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Center. When Cohen left for the University of Rochester Rosoff went into Vicki Sato’s immunology lab; shortly thereafter he went to Lewis Cantley’s lab, working in the biochemistry of cell signaling.

Cantley moved to Tufts University, and Rosoff accepted an assistant professorship there as well. There he got his own lab in a growing department, one looking for MDs who would also do science. Rosoff decided to change his clinical status to science. He met and married Dona Chikaraishi, a molecular biologist at Tufts. Rosoff has been learning the challenges of running a lab: funding, competition for students, and the difference between graduate students and medical students. He now has a brilliant student, Chandra Mohan, who is working on a new signaling receptor they found— by chance—on the surface of human T cells.

Rosoff talks about his calcium channel project and possible collaboration with another Pew Scholar, Michael Snyder. He thinks science is becoming more difficult and competitive. Funding is tight and sometimes arbitrarily awarded. He discusses the changes in technology. He believes that science is a contribution to knowledge and that knowledge advances society. In ten years Rosoff hopes to be doing the same work he is doing now but with more secure funding and a larger lab.

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1974 New York University BA Biology and Psychology
1978 Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine MD

Professional Experience

Harvard University

1981 to 1982
Postdoctorate, Cell Immunology
1982 to 1985
Postdoctorate, Biochemistry

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

1983 to 1985
Instructor, Pediatrics

Tufts-New England Medical Center

1985 to 1992
Assistant Professor, Physiology and Pediatrics

Honors

Year(s) Award
1977

Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society

1978

Honors in Medicine, Surgery, Pediatrics, OB/GYN; Department of Pediatrics Award, CWRU School of Medicince

1987 to 1991

Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences Award

Table of Contents

Early Education
1

Grows up in Philadelphia. Attends Friends Select School. Biology major at New York University. Interest in physiological psychology. Premed courses to please parents. Experiments in cytogenics.

Medical School
6

Case Western Reserve University. Influence of George Nankervis, Jerry Liebman, Richard Graham. Boston’s Children Hopsital. Interest in academics and research. Works for Harvey Cohen in hematology/oncology. Training grant to work with Vicki Sato in immunology. Works in Lewis Cantley’s lab. Studies biochemistry of cell signaling.

Moving to Tufts University
18

Accepts assistant professorship at Tufts University. Department dynamic, growth and changes. Moves away from clinical appointment towards science. New lab. Parents’ attitudes toward his career.

Running a Lab
23

Marries Dona Chikaraishi. Challenges in funding availability. Lab’s projects: entry of calcium into cells; possible collaboration with Michael Snyder. Major project now a new signaling receptor they found on surface of human T cells. Chandra Mohan. Exciting enthusiasm about his work. Hopes to attract more students. Using Bordatella pertussis.

General Thoughts
33

Science getting harder, more competitive. Feels scientists need to be better trained, both technically and intellectually. Differences between MDs and PhDs. Thinks MDs do not get intellectual training. MD/PhD degrees increasing. Technology vital; changes in technology. Intellectual stimulation, learning new things. Science a contribution to society. Doesn’t want to be administrator. Goals for the next ten years.

Index
41

About the Interviewer

Susan M. Lindee
Sarah Goldfine