Jason D. Weber
The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
Jason D. Weber grew up in Edwardsville, Illinois, one of two children. His father was an internist; his mother a teacher. As a youngster he liked to read, especially science fiction, to hang around with friends, and to play soccer. He was always interested in science. Weber entered Bradley University to study biotechnology, a new field that was to become what is now called molecular biology. He discontinued his soccer playing after the first year so that he could concentrate on his studies. In his second year he entered the lab of Samuel Fan, who Weber says was his greatest influence. A radiation biology class led him into the study of cancer and tumor suppression. He also met his future wife while an undergraduate. He loved working in the lab and knew he wanted to do that for his career. Before entering graduate school he spent a year and a half at Monsanto, working on Celebrex in Peter Isakson's lab. For his PhD he went into St. Louis University's cell and molecular biology program, where Joseph Baldassare became his mentor, working on the cell cycle and publishing five papers in addition to his thesis. At a meeting at Cold Spring Harbor Weber met Charles Sherr and decided he wanted to go to Sherr's lab at St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. There he worked on ARF. His work got him onto the cover of the first issue of Nature Cell Biology. Weber began looking for a job, hoping to stay in the Midwest. He accepted an assistant professorship at Washington University in St. Louis's new molecular oncology program, where he is now an associate professor. At the end of the interview he describes his own start-up package; his style of lab management; his postdocs and students; his publications and grants; the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences award's timeliness; the Pew meetings; patents; his responsibilities at the university; and science education. He analogizes science to the farm-team system in baseball. He talks a little about his family and how he balances his life with them with his work life. Weber concludes the interview with an explanation of plans for his future work and a commentary on science and scientists in other countries, particularly China and Japan, versus those in the United States.
|1997||St. Louis University||PhD||Molecular and Cell Biology|
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Washington University in St. Louis
|2001 to 2004||
Edward Mallinckrodt, Jr. Foundation Scholar
|2002 to 2006||
Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences
|2005 to 2008||
Distinguished Service Teaching Awards
Medical School Teacher of the Month
|2008 to 2012||
American Cancer Society Research Scholar
|2008 to 2013||
Breast Cancer Research Program Era of Hope Scholar
Table of Contents
Family background. Parental expectations. Early interest in science. Loved reading and writing. Soccer.
Matriculates into Bradley University. Begins short-lived soccer career. Majors in biotechnology, now called molecular biology. Samuel Fan comes from Duke University, becomes Weber's biggest influence. Radiation biology class convinces him to study cancer. Meets future wife in psychology class. Not informed of importance of graduate school. Works for eighteen months for PeterIsakson at Monsanto. Works on Celebrex.
Enters St. Louis University's new cell and molecular biology program. Joseph Baldassare becomes mentor. Works on connecting signaling to cell cycle. Five papers. Meets Charles Sherr at Cold Spring Harbor meeting.
Convinces Sherr to offer him postdoc at St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Works on ARF. Cover of first issue of Nature Cell Biology. Writing papers for Sherr. Life in the lab. Sherr's lab management. Grants. Finishes PhD in just three and one-half years.
Wanted job in Midwest. Accepted assistant professorship in new molecular oncology program at Washington University in St. Louis. Start-up package. Sherr's generosity with project, equipment, and materials. Setting up and staffing his lab. Being a PhD in a medical school environment.
Politics of grants and parallels with publishing. Pew grants and Pew meetings. Open access journals. Science education. Internships at Washington University. Administrative duties; teaching; his students; patents; baseball as analogy for science. Balancing family life with work life.
About the Interviewer
Hilary Domush was a Program Associate in the Center for Oral History at CHF from 2007–2015. Previously, she earned a BS in chemistry from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine in 2003. She then completed an MS in chemistry and an MA in history of science both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her graduate work in the history of science focused on early nineteenth-century chemistry in the city of Edinburgh, while her work in the chemistry was in a total synthesis laboratory. At CHF, she worked on projects such as the Pew Biomedical Scholars, Women in Chemistry, Atmospheric Science, and Catalysis.