Martin D. Snider

Born: November 10, 1952 | Chicago, IL, US

Martin Snider worked with Joseph Steim, a biophysical chemist interested in the functionality of membranes, while studying at Brown University. Encouraged by Joan Lusk, Snider entered Eugene Kennedy’s lab at Harvard University. Snider chose to do postdoctoral work at MIT where he began his research into glycoprotein synthesis in the lab of Phillips Robbins. Funding and lack of distractions at Carnegie Institution for Science allowed Snider to concentrate on new and productive research into vesicular traffic. When it was time for Snider and his wife to establish their own labs, they settled on Case Western Reserve University. Snider has continued his vesicular traffic work, but he has also returned to glycoprotein synthesis, where he says he has new tools to address old problems.

Access This Interview

The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.

			

Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0752
No. of pages: 33
Minutes: 140

Interview Sessions

Robert Kohler and Naomi Morrissette
8 March 1990
Coral Gables, Florida

Abstract of Interview

Martin Snider grew up mostly on the south side of Chicago, Illinois, later moving to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and then to Newton, Massachusetts. His father was an academic physician, and Snider and his two siblings all ended up in academics too. A National Science Foundation summer program at Brown University convinced him to matriculate there.

At Brown, Snider worked with Joseph Steim, a biophysical chemist interested in the functionality of membranes. Snider feels that Brown, with its emphasis on undergraduates, gave him an excellent education. Encouraged by Joan Lusk, Snider entered Eugene Kennedy’s lab at Harvard University. Working with membrane proteins, as well as Kennedy, was difficult but he became Snider’s most important influence. Because his wife was at Harvard Medical School, Snider chose to do postdoctoral work at MIT. There he began his research into glycoprotein synthesis in the lab of Phillips Robbins. Snider was glad to leave the high-stress competition to accept a staff associate position at Carnegie Institution for Science, which he says was the nicest place he has ever worked. Funding and lack of distractions allowed Snider to concentrate on new research into vesicular traffic, and he was very productive.

When it was time for Snider and his wife, who is a neuropharmacologist, to establish their own labs, they found job-hunting to be most productive in medical schools in small cities. Ultimately they settled on Case Western Reserve University for both of them. Snider has continued his vesicular traffic work, but he has also returned to glycoprotein synthesis, where he says he has new tools to address old problems. He talks about his colleagues with similar interests; the size and composition of his lab; oral tradition in labs; and his own distinctive lab management. He has the additional responsibilities of grant-writing, reviewing papers, and teaching, leaving him perhaps half time in his lab.

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1973 Brown University BS Biology
1978 Harvard University PhD Medical Sciences/Biological Chemistry

Professional Experience

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

1978 to 1982
Post-Doctorate, Biology & Center for Cancer Research

Carnegie Institution of Washington

1982 to 1986
Staff Associate, Department of Biology

Case Western Reserve University

1986 to 1991
Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry

Honors

Year(s) Award
1973 to 1976

National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship

1978 to 1981

National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellowship

1986 to 1990

Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences Award

Table of Contents

Early Years
1

Grows up on south side of Chicago, Illinois, one of three children. Father academic physician; siblings also academics. Attends University of Chicago Laboratory School until high school; then two years in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and a year in Newton, Massachusetts. Uncle early biochemist. Attended National Science Foundation (NSF) summer program at Brown University.

College Years
3

Enters Brown to work with Joseph Steim. Excellent education at Brown. Confirmation of old membrane models. Political events; closing of Brown. Vietnam War and Watergate.

Graduate School Years
7

Eugene Kennedy’s lab at Harvard University. Membrane function; lacY. Other possible graduate schools. Biochemistry of membrane proteins difficult, purifying laborious and tedious. Kennedy not warm, but Snider’s most important influence. Changing from prokaryotic to eukaryotic work. Chris Raetz and William Wickner.

Postdoctoral Years
12

Wife at Harvard Medical School. Phillips Robbins’ lab at MIT. Glycoprotein synthesis; Robbins’ approach enzymological approach, Snider’s cell biological. Combining biochemistry and cell biology. Relationship with Robbins. Harvey Lodish’s lab. MIT labs high-pressure, competitive.

Carnegie Institution for Science
15

Staff Associate position. Nicest place he’s ever worked. Generous funding. Director Donald Brown’s preference for molecular. Able to concentrate on benchwork; very productive time. Begins work on vesicular traffic.

First Independent Lab
18

Snider and wife job searching. Medical schools in smaller cities best places to look. Case Western Reserve University. Cleveland a nice city, convenient, close to families. Good start-up offers for both. Less high-stress; medical school teaching done by committees; science boundaries less rigid. Cell biology new area; more hands-on oversight. Size, composition of lab. New tools and new perspectives. Cloning. Molecular biology all in kits now. Snider’s approach. General thoughts. Reviewing and teaching. Less time in lab. Grants and funding.

Index
32

About the Interviewer

Robert Kohler
Naomi Morrissette