Matthew K. Waldor

Born: February 6, 1958 | Newark, NJ, US

Matthew K. Waldor grew up near Newark, New Jersey and attended Yale University. He had his first real research experience at Woods Hole Science Center working on neural systems in the leech nervous system. His interest in scientific research piqued, Waldor sought out research while in medical school at Stanford and ended up in Larry Steinman's laboratory studying autoimmunity in the nervous system, specifically developing mouse models. After his residency at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Waldor began a fellowship in infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital and then a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School, researching a new strain of epidemic cholera. From there he accepted a position at Tufts University, conducting research in microbial genetics and infectious diseases studying phage replication, regulation, and antibiotic resistance.

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0605
No. of pages: 105
Minutes: 323

Interview Sessions

William Van Benschoten
26 and 28 January 2004
Tufts Universitym Boston, Massachusetts

Abstract of Interview

Matthew K. Waldor grew up in the suburbs of Newark, New Jersey, the middle of three children. Waldor's father spent much time in the American military—in active and reserve duty, eventually retiring at the rank of major general—though mostly worked at an insurance agency he founded; his mother was a homemaker. Waldor spent much of his youth interested in and committed to learning, as well as partaking in the normal activities of childhood: reading, piano lessons, and playing in the woods near his home. His early interests were in the arts and humanities, though he was not entirely certain about his career path. He attended Yale University and spent several years intensively committed to his schoolwork before deciding to take a semester off to travel to Spain, where he taught English and planned to write a novel (though never did). He returned to Yale, majoring in philosophy and biology, and decided to pursue medicine for his profession. Before starting at Stanford University Medical School, Waldor had what he considered his first real research experience at Woods Hole Science Center working on neural systems in the leech nervous system. His interest in scientific research piqued, Waldor sought out research while in medical school and ended up in Larry Steinman's laboratory studying autoimmunity in the nervous system, specifically developing mouse models. Although he was accepted to Stanford's MD/PhD program, Waldor declined and continued to conduct research, and then obtain his PhD independently, while at Stanford; he also had the fortune to learn how to think about and do science from Leonore A. Herzenberg. After becoming interested in infectious diseases during a class of Stanley Falkow's at Stanford and after his residency at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, Waldor began a clinical fellowship in infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital and then a postdoctoral fellowship in John J. Mekalanos's laboratory at Harvard Medical School, researching a new strain of epidemic cholera. From there he accepted a position at Tufts University, conducting research in microbial genetics and infectious diseases studying phage replication, regulation, and antibiotic resistance. Near the end of the interview Waldor discusses the requirements of scientific practice and the ways in which he balances his career with his family life; his professional goals; his process for writing journal articles; and a typical workday. The interview ends with reflections on the privatization of scientific research; gender and ethnic issues in science; and the role of the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences grant in his laboratory.

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
Yale University BS Philosophy and Biology
Stanford University School of Medicine MD
1986 Stanford University School of Medicine PhD Neuroscience

Professional Experience

Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Residency

Massachusetts General Hospital

Clinical Fellowship in Infectious Diseases

Harvard Medical School

Postdoctoral Fellowship with John J. Mekalanos

Tufts University School of Medicine

2000

Table of Contents

Growing Up in New Jersey
1

Growing up in West Orange and South Orange, New Jersey. Family background. Parents. Siblings. Childhood interests and experiences. Early schooling. Influential high school teacher. Decision to pursue science rather than the humanities.

High School, College, and Graduate and Medical School
15

High school experiences. Extracurricular activities. Attends Yale University. Parental expectations. First research experience in a Woods Hole Science Center neural systems course. Attends Stanford University Medical School. Studies autoimmunity in the nervous system in Larry Steinman's laboratory.

Doctoral Research, Residency, and Clinical Fellowship
30

Doctoral research on the treatment of multiple sclerosis in the mouse. Learns how to think and do science from Leonore A. Herzenberg. Writing journal articles. Steinman's laboratory management style. Residency at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. Becomes interested in infectious diseases during a class taught by Stanley Falkow at Stanford University. Clinical fellowship ininfectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Postdoctoral Research and Tufts University
41

Postdoctoral research on a new strain of epidemic cholera. Mekalanos ‘s laboratory management style. Accepts a position at Tufts University. Setting up lab. Current research on cholera phage transport, integration, and replication

Waldor's Laboratory
56

Religion. Family. Wife and children. Balancing family and career. Practical applications of research. Role in the lab. Teaching responsibilities. Travel commitments. Administrative duties. Funding history. Duties to professional community. Laboratory management style. Future plans. Leisure activities. Professional goals. Writing journal articles. Patents. Tenure at Tufts University. Competition and collaboration in science. Prioritizing research projects.

Final Thoughts
84

Ethical questions in science. Role of the scientist in informing the public about science. Privatization of scientific research. Gender. Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences. Improving the quality of science.

Index
102

About the Interviewer

William Van Benschoten