Charles M. Rubin

Born: February 10, 1953 | Long Branch, NJ, US
Died: July 17, 2015 | New Lenox, IL, US

Charles M. Rubin grew up in Deal, New Jersey, and attended the University of Pennsylvania. Inspired by a course in genetics, he decided to study medicine. He studied chromosome abnormalities in William Mellman's lab, conducting research on spina bifida; he found gratification in helping sick children. He was admitted to Tufts University School of Medicine. Rubin did subspecialty training in pediatric hematology/oncology at the University of Minnesota, and later accepted a fellowship at the University of Chicago. He conducted research on chromosome abnormalities and studying large pieces of DNA with pulsed field gel electrophoresis. Rubin discusses national treatment protocols, research and clinical practice, and his shift toward practice. He finishes with a discussion of the genetic component in cancer and the limits of gene therapy. 

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0572
No. of pages: 94
Minutes: 301

Interview Sessions

Neil D. Hathaway
5, 7 and 9 November 1992
University of Chicago Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois

Abstract of Interview

Charles M. Rubin grew up in Deal, New Jersey, the second of four children. His father was a dentist, his mother a secretary; both are Conservative Jews. He attended public school, which he liked and in which he did well. He was especially interested in science and mathematics, enjoying problem-solving. Racial tensions and riots at his high school in Asbury Park, however, framed much of his high school experience. Rubin entered the University of Pennsylvania for his undergraduate degree. He spent summers as a counselor at a camp for handicapped children; he continued to visit the children during the school year; and when he was in medical school, he worked in the camp infirmary. Inspired by Bertram Lubin's course in genetics, he decided to enter medicine. In his last year of college he was excited by C. Everett Koop's separation of Siamese twins at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. He studied chromosome abnormalities in the lab of William Mellman, conducting research on spina bifida; he found (and still finds) gratification in helping sick children. He was admitted to Tufts University School of Medicine, about which he discusses his medical school classes and his interest in academic medicine. He took electives at three different children's hospitals, learned the health needs of inner-city children, and decided to specialize in pediatric oncology. Rubin did subspecialty training in pediatric hematology/oncology at the University of Minnesota. Studying cytogenetics with Diane C. Arthur increased his interest in research, and he began studying chromosome damage in recipients of chemotherapy and radiation; Rubin's study of retinoblastoma recurrence has since led to more aggressive treatment. Rubin accepted a fellowship at the University of Chicago to acquire more training in research; there he found a clinical focus in Janet D. Rowley's lab. He began conducting further research on chromosome abnormalities and studying large pieces of DNA with pulsed field gel electrophoresis. Rubin ends the interview with a discussion of his marriage and family and the challenge of balancing family and career. He talks about how national treatment protocols are created; about how research affects clinical practice; and about his shift away from research toward practice. He explains his teaching responsibilities and his clinical duties and talks about how he started the Joint Pediatric/Medical Cancer Risk Clinic. He finishes with a discussion of the genetic component in cancer and the limits of gene therapy. 

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1975 University of Pennsylvania BA Biology
1979 Tufts University MD

Professional Experience

University of Minnesota

1982 to 1985
Fellow in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology

University of Chicago

1985 to 1987
Fellow in Cytogenetics and Molecular Biology of Leukemia
1987 to 1993
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine, Pritzker School of Medicine
1987 to 1993
Member, Cancer Research Center

Chicago Children's Memorial Hospital

1986 to 1989
Provisional Attending Physician

Michael Reese Hospital

1988 to 1989
Associate Attending Member

University of Chicago Hospitals

1988 to 1993
Medical Staff, Wyler Children's Hospital
1989 to 1993
Assistant Director, Hematology/Oncology, Cytogenetics Laboratory
1991 to 1993
Co-Director, Joint Pediatric/Medical Cancer Risk Clinic

Honors

Year(s) Award
1974

Phi Beta Kappa

1975

Summa Cum Laude

1978

Alpha Omega Alpha

1987

Special fellow, Leukemia Society of American

1987

Leukemia Research Foundation Award

1988

Schweppe Foundation Career Development Award

1988 to 1992

Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences

Table of Contents

Early Years and Entering College
1

Childhood in DealNew Jersey. Parents, grandparents, brothers, and extended family. Jewish upbringing. Riots of the 1960s and ethnic clannishness. Early education. Brothers' careers. Attends Asbury Park High School. School's diverse ethnic mix. Racial tensions and riots in Asbury Park. Surfing and swimming. Friends in high school. Participates in anti-Vietnam War protests. Accepted at the University of Pennsylvania. Spends summers as a counselor ata camp for handicapped children. Visits the children during the year. During medical school, works in the camp infirmary.

College Years and Medical School
35

Undergraduate years at University of Pennsylvania. Volunteer work in children's hospitals. Decision to enter medicine. Inspired by Bertram Lubin's course in Genetics. Excited by C. Everett Koop's separation of Siamese twins at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Studies chromosome abnormalities in the lab of William Mellman. Conducts research on spina bifida. Finds gratification in helping sick children. Applies to medical school. Admitted to Tufts University School of Medicine. Undergraduate classwork. Medical school Classes. Interest in academic medicine. Financing medical school. Takes electives at three different children's hospitals. Learns the health needs of inner-city children. Decides to focus on pediatric oncology. How childhood cancers differ from adult. Social life in medical school. Subspecialty training in pediatric hematology/oncology at the University of Minnesota. Studies cytogenetics with Diane C. Arthur. Growing interest in research. Studying chromosome damage in recipients of chemotherapy and radiation.

Biomedical Research and Clinical Practice
63

Effects of cancer treatments. Study of retinoblastoma recurrence leads to more aggressive treatment. How national treatment protocols are created. How research affects clinical practice. Shift away from research toward practice. Accepts a fellowship at the University of Chicago to acquire more training in Research. The strong clinical focus of Janet D. Rowley's lab. Further researchon chromosome abnormalities. Retrospective studies and the need for prospective studies. Studying large pieces of DNA with pulsed field gel electrophoresis. Marriage and family. Challenge of balancing family and career. Teaching responsibilities. Clinical duties. Starting the Joint Pediatric/Medical Cancer Risk Clinic. Genetic component in cancer. Limits of gene therapy.

Index
92

About the Interviewer

Neil D. Hathaway