Michel Streuli

Born: April 17, 1958 | Zürich, CH

Michel Streuli was born in Zürich, Switzerland. In school he liked mathematics and engineering. He had always wanted to be a doctor and a scientist, and based on its pediatrics program, he attended Tufts University. Then he returned to Zürich to work in Charles Weissman's lab, where he worked on cloning interferon. After five years, he took a position at Dana-Farber Cancer Center to work in Stuart F. Schlossman's lab. He found a place in Haruo Saito's lab, working on cloning antigens, specifically the antigen CD45, the leukocyte common antigen. He then accepted an assistant professorship at the Dana-Farber Cancer Center and Harvard University. He is now an associate professor and continues his research. He hopes that his work, which is aimed at understanding the basic mechanisms of the cell, may help others develop new cancer therapies and diagnostic tools.

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0504
No. of pages: 87
Minutes: 250

Interview Sessions

Helene L. Cohen
8-9 November 1999
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts

Abstract of Interview

Michel Streuli was born in Zürich, Switzerland, where his father was a doctor and his mother a law librarian. When he was about three, Michel and his family moved to Bronxville, New York, where his father had taken a postdoc. After a couple of years the family moved back to Switzerland, later returning to the United States, where Michel began school. In school he liked mathematics and engineering. He built a washing machine and an artificial kidney with his father when he was ten or twelve. In high school he enjoyed mathematics and science classes; he had a very good biology teacher. He tutored math in Harlem and enjoyed sports. He had always wanted to be a doctor and a scientist, and since Tufts was known to have a good program in child development and pediatrics, Michel began college there, with biology as his major. He also joined the squash team. After his junior year he went to Switzerland for a summer but stayed for a year. He finished his degree in the United States and then went back to Zürich to do research in Charles Weissman's lab, where he worked on cloning interferon. He returned after five years to the Dana-Farber Cancer Center to work in Stuart F. Schlossman's lab. He found a place in Haruo Saito's lab, working on cloning antigens, specifically the antigen CD45, the leukocyte common antigen. It had been cloned for a part of the rat gene but not for the human. During this period, he married Elsa Gontrum, who was studying art history at Yale. They have since had two children. After finishing his postdoc, he accepted an assistant professorship at the Dana-Farber Cancer Center and at Harvard University, in the department of pathology. He is now an associate professor and continues his research, hoping that eventually scientists will develop cancer therapies. He has patented some of his discoveries; he continues to publish articles and win awards; and he and his wife attempt to balance family life with their two careers. 

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1981 Tufts University BS
1983 University of Zürich Diploma
1986 University of Zürich PhD

Professional Experience

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

1986 to 1991
Research Fellow, Division of Tumor Immunology
1991 to 1997
Assistant Professor, Division of Tumor Immunology
1998 to 2001
Associate Professor, Department of Cancer Immunology and AIDS

Harvard Medical School

1986 to 2001
Department of Pathology

Honors

Year(s) Award
1981

Prix Jacques de Bedriaga, University of Zürich

1986

Swiss National Science Foundation Fellowship

1988

Cancer Research Institute Fellowship

1993 to 1997

Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences

1997

Leukemia Society of America Scholar Award

Table of Contents

Early Years
1

Family background. Early schooling in Switzerland and the United States. Helps build a washing machine and an artificial kidney as class projects. Streuli 's religious background. His secondary school science classes. Extracurricular activities. Impact of his parents' divorce.

College Years
23

Enters Tufts University to become a research physician. Streuli's summer trip to Zürich to study interferon in the Charles Weissmann laboratory.

Graduate and Postgraduate Years
31

His graduate research on interferon in the United States and Zürich. Weissmann's management style. Accepts a position as a postdoc at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Joins the Haruo Saito laboratory and helps clone CD45. Differences in tenure and government support of science between Switzerland and the United States. Saito's management style. Streuli's research on tyrosine phosphorylation.

Establishing His Own Lab
43

Accepts an assistant professorship at Dana-Farber Cancer Center. Establishing his laboratory. Exploiting new research technologies. Drafting grant proposals. Streuli's teaching responsibilities. Writing articles The size and makeup of Streuli's laboratory. His laboratory management style. Balancing career and family life. Gender and race in the sciences. Clinical applications of Streuli's research. Patents in science. His laboratory's financial support.

Index
86

About the Interviewer

Helene L. Cohen