William C. Sha

Born: 1962 | New York, NY, US

William C. Sha grew up in Chicago. His father and mother worked at the Argonne National Laboratory. During high school, he published with Ejup N. Ganic, later President of Bosnia and Herzegovina. While studying at the University of Chicago, he worked at Argonne National Laboratory with Ely M. Gelbard, a formative experience that convinced him to enter an MD/PhD program. He attended Washington University, where he studied immunology with Dennis Y. Loh before accepting a postdoc with David Baltimore at Rockefeller University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Sha then accepted a position at the University of California, Berkeley. He conducts immunology research on the role of costimulatory molecules in regulating the immune response and on B- and T lymphocyte cell interactions.

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0598
No. of pages: 85
Minutes: 350

Interview Sessions

Andrea R. Maestrejuan
4-6 August 2003

Abstract of Interview

William C. Sha was born in New York City but moved as a young child to Chicago, Illinois, where his father, and then his mother, worked at the Argonne National Laboratory. Sha's father received a doctoral degree in nuclear engineering and his mother deferred graduate education in order to raise the family's children (Sha has two older sisters). He attended public schools and received an education that he considered quite typical, though he did have the opportunity during high school to work and publish with Ejup N. Ganic before he became President of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Sha matriculated at the University of Chicago, where he majored in chemistry and worked with Stephen Lee in Jeremy K. Burdett's laboratory. While in college, he worked at Argonne National Laboratory with Ely M. Gelbard, a formative experience that helped convince him to enter an MD/PhD program. Sha joined the MD/PhD program at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, where he completed his doctorate of philosophy in immunology with Dennis Y. Loh before accepting a postdoctoral fellowship with David Baltimore at Rockefeller University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. While in Baltimore's lab Sha worked on NF-kappaB transcription factors (during the interview he also provided his perspective on the Imanishi-Kari affair). At the end of his postdoctoral research Sha accepted a position at the University of California, Berkeley, conducting immunology research on the role of costimulatory molecules in regulating the immune response and on B- and T lymphocyte cell interactions. In his oral history interview Sha discusses topics such as his family history, the impact of his dual degrees on his research projects, writing journal articles, patents, the role of government in science, broader issues related to the conduct of science, and the ways in which the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences played a part in his scientific career.

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
University of Chicago BS Chemistry
Washington University in St. Louis MD/PhD

Professional Experience

Argonne National Laboratory

Research

The Rockefeller University

Postdoctoral work

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Postdoctoral work

University of California, Berkeley

Honors

Year(s) Award
1997 to 2001

Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences Grant

Table of Contents

Childhood and College
1

Family background. Parents. Siblings. Parental expectations. Childhood experiences and interests. Early schooling. Works during high school in Chicago, Illinois, with Ejup N. Ganic. Influential teachers in high school. Extracurricular activities. Religion. Attends the University of Chicago, Illinois, and majors in chemistry. Creativity in science. Works in Jeremy K. Burdett's laboratory with Stephen Lee during college. Has a formative scientific experience at Argonne National Laboratory working for Ely M. Gelbard before entering medical school.

Graduate School, Postdoctoral Work, and the University of California, Berkeley
25

Decision to enter an M.D./Ph.D. program at Washington University. Doctoral research in immunology in Dennis Y. Loh's laboratory. M.D./Ph.D. program at Washington University. Loh's mentoring style. Loh laboratory. Postdoctoral fellowship in David Baltimore's laboratory. Postdoctoral research in immunologyat Rockefeller University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology on NF-kappaB transcription factors. David Baltimore's mentoring style. Imanishi-Kari affair. Accepts a position at the University of California, Berkeley. Current research in immunology on the role of costimulatory molecules in regulating the immune response and on B and T lymphocyte cell interactions. Criteria for prioritizing research projects.

Working in the Lab and Final Thoughts
50

Professional and personal goals. Future research on host-pathogen interactions and on the role of costimulatory molecules in regulating the immune response. Setting up his lab. Laboratory management style. Teaching responsibilities. Funding history. Broader applications of work. Research and having an M.D. Degree. Future developments in immunology. Writing journal articles. Competition in science. Balancing personal life and career. Gender. Role of government in science. Patents. Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences.

Index
82

About the Interviewer

Andrea R. Maestrejuan