In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Douglas Brash, Professor in the Department of Therapeutic Radiology in the Yale School of Medicine. Brash recounts his childhood in a rural community outside of Cleveland, and then in Chicago, and he describes his early interests in science and his determination to become a physicist by the third grade. He discusses his education at Illinois where he majored in engineering physics, and he describes his formative summer job at Livermore Laboratory which helped to compel him to pursue biophysics for graduate school. Brash discusses his research at Ohio State under the supervision of Karl Kornacker, and the work of his graduate adviser, Ron Hart who was focused on DNA repair. Brash discusses his interests in aging and molecular biology which was the foundation for his dissertation, and he provides an overview of biophysics as a discrete field in the 1970s. He discusses the distinctions in his research regarding basic science and clinically relevant therapies as it relates to understanding cancer, and he describes the varying interests in environmental carcinogenesis and retroviruses as a basis for cancer research. Brash explains the origins of the discovery of oncogenes and the connection leading to his specialty in skin cancer research. He describes his postdoctoral research at Harvard and the Dana Farber Institute with Bill Haseltine working on DNA damage and mutagenesis. Brash discusses his subsequent work at the NIH where he continued his research in cell mutation and where he began to study the effect of UV rays on skin cancer. He explains the circumstances leading to his decision to join the faculty at Yale, where he realized he had greater opportunity to continue examining UV rays and skin cancer. Brash offers an overview of the major advances over the last two decades in skin cancer research, and he describes the central importance in DNA sequencing and Chemiecxitation. He discusses the many research advantages associated with having an appointment in a medical school, and at the of the interview, Brash describes the value of bringing a physics approach to cancer research, and some of the policy and communication implications that come with working at the cutting edge of the field.
In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, Interviews Robert Best, Senior Investigator, Laboratory of Chemical Physics, NIDDK, at the NIH. Best recounts his childhood in South Africa, his education in math and physics at the University of Cape Town, and his graduate work at Cambridge where he worked with Jane Clarke on protein folding. Best describes his post-doctoral research that led to his connection with Bill Eaton and Gerhard Hummer, and his decision to join the NIH. In the last third of the interview, Best explains his recent work on the single molecule fluorescence, DNA binding proteins, and novel simulation methodology.
In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interview Ad Bax, section chief in the Laboratory of Chemical Physics, at the NIH. Bax recounts his childhood in the Netherlands growing up on a farm and his undergraduate experience at the University of Delft. He describes his developing interest in nuclear magnetic resonance and the exciting theoretical opportunities that this new field presented. Bax discusses his graduate work with Ray Freeman at Oxford in NMR spectroscopy, and he explains the early role of computers on NMR research. He discusses the circumstances leading to his postdoctoral work at Colorado State University on solution and solid state NMR. Bax explains his initial work at the NIH using NMR to study protein structure. In the last portion of the interview, Bax provides an overview of the clinical and research value of NMR to the overall mission of the NIH, and he describes how the culture of collaboration makes the NIH a unique place to pursue basic research.
In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Marius Clore, NIH Distinguished Investigator, Chief of Section of Protein NMR, Lab of Chemical Physics at the NIH. Clore recounts his childhood in London and his early interests in science, and he explains in detail the British education system that leads to specialization early in one’s undergraduate career. Clore discusses his experience at University College London, where he obtained a medical degree by age 24, and his residency at St. Charles Hospital. He describes his early interests in low temperature kinetic methods and NMR spectroscopy at Mill Hill. He describes his decision to pursue NMR as a career path, which he recognized was in its early stages at that point and which he felt was ripe for development. Clore explains how he taught himself General Relativity from Dirac’s book, and his decision to study at the Planck Institute. He describes the arc of his career at the NIH and his contributions to advancing NMR research and the intellectual atmosphere that allowed him to pursue interesting projects, including HIV research and the XPLOR program. Near the end of the discussion, Clore explains the difference between biophysics and classical physics, and why the NIH has been the ideal place to pursue his research.
In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Carson Chow, Senior Investigator in the Laboratory of Biological Modeling in NIDDK, which is the National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institutes of Health. Chow recounts his family background and childhood in Toronto, his undergraduate education at the University of Toronto and his graduate work at MIT, where he completed his doctoral research in Spatiotemporal Chaos in the Three Wave Interaction. Chow discusses his broader interests in nonlinear dynamics and describes his postdoctoral work at the University of Colorado where he worked with John Cary on particle accelerator physics, and the events leading up to his work with Jim Collins of Boston University, who hired Chow to integrate nonlinear dynamics work into biomedical engineering. Chow explains how this work ultimately led to his decision to join the NIH, where he works on biological modeling and supercomputing in collaborative projects throughout the Institutes.
National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland
In this interview, Hari Shroff discusses his early childhood in India and England before his family settled in Seattle. Shroff describes his decision to start college at age 14 at the University of Washington and his graduate work at University of California, Berkeley where he made molecules that could optically report on a local force that was being transduced across molecules. Shroff discusses his desire to transform this research into something with wide societal value, which led to his post-doctorate work at Janelia Farm in Virginia where he worked on the photactivated localization microscopy (PALM) technique. In the last portion of the interview Shroff describes his transition to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2009, and he recounts his decision to come to NIH over Yale because of the opportunities it afforded to build lab that is continuously pushing the boundary for the kind of imaging that microscopes can create. The interview concludes with Shroff explaining his interest in deep learning as one solution to making sense of the enormous amount of data generated in the health sciences.
Dr. Han Wen runs the Imaging Physics Laboratory at the National Institute of Health. In this interview, Wen discusses his childhood in Beijing and the circumstances that led to his decision to pursue graduate studies in statistical quantum mechanics at the University of Maryland and its joint biophysics program that the Department of Physics ran with the NIH. Wen describes his early interest in MRI first as a graduate student at the NIH and then as a full time physicist. Wen provides an overview of his contribution to improvements in MRI technology and explains how the spirit of interdisciplinary collaboration at the NIH has enhanced his research. Wen explains his current work on x-ray CT imaging, which he hopes will improve in the future to the point when radiation exposure is minimized and the imaging quality becomes so good that many biopsies will no longer be necessary.
Family background; father’s education; early education and musical interest; Amherst College with graduate fellowship; graduate school at Harvard University; influence of Elmer Kohler’s course on early research problems, bromination of ketones. Comments on staff, fellow students and influential faculty at Harvard (James B. Conant); teaching policies at Harvard. Postdoctoral work at Rockefeller Institute and Columbia University; wife’s contribution to career; University of Minnesota position, comments on Charles Frederick Koelsch’s work and on the facilities at Minnesota. Discussions of own work and works of Richard S. Berry, Robert Henry Rosenwald, Irving POkel. Research funds at University of Minnesota, the importance of National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institutes of Health (NIH); move to Harvard, lengthy comments on teaching, graduate students and faculty, as well as on other organic chemists (Christopher Ingolf, William Gould Young, Howard Lucas); status of physical organic chemistry and the future of chemistry.