The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
Yolanda Sanchez was born in El Paso, Texas, but grew up in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. She was one of five children whose father was an architect, now a teacher, and a housewife. Sanchez spent a year in New Zealand, improving her English and beginning to establish her independence. Her interest in science began in high school, where she did well in math and chemistry, loved biology, and did some research on Achyla recurva. Her parents valued education, but their daughters (who were told they could not marry until they had finished a degree) were allowed to go to college only locally, so Sanchez chose University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) and was awarded a Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) grant. She worked on tumor suppressor genes and became interested in cell cycle and DNA repair. She chose Ann Killary’s lab at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), moving with Killary’s lab to the University of Texas at Houston, where she worked on microcell-mediated chromosome transfer. She married another scientist during this time and stayed in the lab for another year while waiting for her husband to finish his degree. For a postdoc Sanchez went to Stephen Elledge’s lab at Baylor University to work on the cell cycle in yeast. She published three papers there, including a Science paper on Rad53 kinase, and found Chk1 in yeast and humans.
Sanchez and her husband, Craig Tomlinson, accepted positions at the University of Cincinnati. She received a good startup package and found congenial colleagues as well as the possibility of collaborators. She was able to bring with her what she had worked on in Elledge’s lab, but she still found the transition to being PI difficult in some ways, especially because of the intrusion of politics into her lab management and into publishing. In her lab she emphasized teamwork and toughness.
Next Sanchez moved to an associate professorship at Dartmouth College, where her husband became head of the genomics core. She spends less time in the lab but hopes to be able to spend more time there in the future. She believes that basic science is crucial for medicine and that National Institutes of Health allocates funding inappropriately against basic science.
Sanchez discusses her Pew Scholars application topic (DNA damage and repair) and scholarship, the money it afforded her, potential and realized collaborations, and the Pew meetings. Her lab receives annual income from a patent; she talks about that patent and patents in general; she believes that patents help protect innovation. Sanchez compares her experience of religion in science in both Mexico and the United States. She describes her experiences with education of laymen, including the politics often involved in that education. She discusses balancing home life with work life and, although her husband is very supportive, she advocates for government-mandated and government-provided child care. Sanchez concludes her interview with a call for ethics classes and a greater emphasis on ethics in the practice of science.
|1987||University of Texas, El Paso||BS||Biology|
|1996||University of Texas Health Science Center||PhD||Biology|
Baylor College of Medicine
University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
Dartmouth Medical School
NIH/NIGMS MARC Scholarship and Grant Recipient
Summa Cum Laude Graduate at the University of Texas, El Paso
University Honors, University of Texas, El Paso Honors Program
Biology Department Honors with Senior Honors, University of Texas, El Paso
NIH/NIGMS Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) Predoctoral Fellowship Recipient
Young Investigator Travel Grant Recipient, "Gene Regulation and Oncogenes" Conference, American Association for Cancer Research
|1995 to 1997||
NIH/NIGMS NRSA Postdoctoral Fellowship Recipient
Career Development Award, Department of Defense Breast Cancer Program
|2001 to 2005||
Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences Award
Table of Contents
Born in El Paso, Texas; raised in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. Family background. Interest in science in high school. Year as exchange student in New Zealand. Religion also important. Good at math, chemistry, loves biology; some lab research. Volunteer work. Family’s influence in choice of career.
Sanchez attends University of Texas at El Paso. Begins in psychology, anthropology, decides on biology, then bioscience. Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) grant. Works on tumor suppressor genes; interest in newly-discovered cell cycle and DNA repair conjunction. Ann Killary’s lab at UT San Antonio for graduate school, later to UT Houston. Microcell-mediated chromosome transfer. Killary’s lab size, composition. Competition with other labs. Marries. Louise Strong’s advice for postdoc.
Wants to work on cell cycle in model organism; Stephen Elledge’s lab at Baylor University. Three papers. Science paper on Rad53 kinase in yeast; team effort. Chk1 in yeast and humans. Long hours at lab; husband supportive. Back-and-forth writing for papers with Elledge. Other Pew Scholars in lab with her.
Two-body problem. University of Cincinnati. Good startup package, congenial colleagues, potential collaborations. Negotiates with Elledge on what she could take with her. Experiences the “politics” for first time. Toughness and teamwork in her lab. Teaching to community. Lab composition; writing with students. Politics of publishing; anonymity of reviewers and authors.
Dartmouth’s attitude toward couples; husband also offered job. Sanchez’s other duties; much less time in lab. Mentoring; differences among students. MD/PhD student relates research to human disease. Importance of basic science for medicine.
Pew Scholarship. Application process, help from other Pew Scholars, friends. Topic: how protein senses DNA damage; whether it helps repair DNA damage. Importance of Pew money. Collaborations and competition aided by Pew. Students in science: fewer? Foreign? Loves her work, thinks of it as her dream. Patents and her lab’s income. How patents help science. Religion and science in United States and Mexico. Science education; politics and science education. Balancing home life with work. Discussion of ethics. Impossibility of exact replication. Science as a community.
About the Interviewer
David J. Caruso earned a BA in the history of science, medicine, and technology from Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and a PhD in science and technology studies from Cornell University in 2008. Caruso is the director of the Center for Oral History at the Science History Institute, president of Oral History in the Mid-Atlantic Region, and editor for the Oral History Review. In addition to overseeing all oral history research at the Science History Institute, he also holds an annual training institute that focuses on conducting interviews with scientists and engineers, he consults on various oral history projects, like at the San Diego Technology Archives, and is adjunct faculty at the University of Pennsylvania, teaching courses on the history of military medicine and technology and on oral history. His current research interests are the discipline formation of biomedical science in 20th-century America and the organizational structures that have contributed to such formation.