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Kenneth Olden

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Information about Kenneth Olden

Profile image of Kenneth Olden

Profession

Category:
ScienceMakers
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
Cell Biologist
Academic Administrator

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Red
Favorite Food:
All Food
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts
Favorite Quote:
Genetics loads the gun, the environment pulls the trigger.

Birthplace

Born:
7/22/1938
Birth Location:
Newport, Tennessee

Profession

Category:
ScienceMakers
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
Cell Biologist
Academic Administrator

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Red
Favorite Food:
All Food
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts
Favorite Quote:
Genetics loads the gun, the environment pulls the trigger.

Birthplace

Born:
7/22/1938
Birth Location:
Newport
See how Kenneth Olden is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Cell biologist and biochemist Kenneth Olden was born in Parrottsville, Tennessee. He graduated from Knoxville College in 1960 with his B.S. degree in biology. In 1962, Olden enrolled at the University of Michigan and graduated from there in 1964 with his M.S. degree in genetics. He went on to earn his Ph.D. in cell biology and biochemistry from Temple University in 1978. Upon graduation, Olden served as a postdoctoral fellow and instructor in the physiology department at Harvard University Medical School where he worked from 1970 to 1974.

From 1974 to 1979, he was employed as a researcher in the laboratory of molecular biology at the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In 1977, he became the first African American to be awarded tenure and promoted to the rank of independent investigator at the NIH. From 1979-1991, he held several positions at the Howard University Cancer Center, including Director, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Oncology. Olden served in several positions at Howard University between 1979 and 1991, including associate professor of oncology in the Medical School as well as professor and chairman of the Department of Oncology.

In 1991, Olden was named Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the Nation Toxicology Program (NTP) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service. He was the first African American to become director of one of the NIH Institutes. Olden then served as Chief of the Metastasis Group in the Laboratory of Molecular Carcinogenesis at the NIEHS. He was appointed as the Yerby Visiting Professor in the Harvard School of Public Health from 2006 to 2007. In 2008, Olden became founding Dean of the School of Public Health at the City University of New York.

Olden has received four of the most prestigious awards in public health: the American Public Health Association Calver Award in 2002, the Sedgwick Memorial Medal and the Laurenberg Award in 2004, and the Julius B. Richmond Award in 2005. He also received three of the highest awards for a public servant in the executive branch of the U.S. Government: the DHHS Secretary’s Distinguished Service Award in 1995, the President’s Meritorious Executive Rank Award in 1997, and the President’s Distinguished Executive Rank Award in 1998. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of Rochester and an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the College of Charleston. Olden was elected to membership in the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 1994.

Ken Olden was interviewed by TheHistoryMakers on May 21, 2013.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Kenneth Olden's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Kenneth Olden lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Kenneth Olden describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Kenneth Olden talks about his mother and about Newport, Tennessee
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Kenneth Olden describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Kenneth Olden talks about his parents attending church while growing up in Newport, Tennessee
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Kenneth Olden talks about visiting his hometown in Newport, Tennessee
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Kenneth Olden talks about his parents attending school in Newport, Tennessee
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Kenneth Olden talks about his parents as his role models
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Kenneth Olden talks about his siblings
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Kenneth Olden describes his earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Kenneth Olden describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Parrotsville, Tennessee
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Kenneth Olden describes his experience in elementary school
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Kenneth Olden describes his early interest in reading and in pursuing higher education
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Kenneth Olden talks about successful African Americans in his community and his role in church while growing up
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Kenneth Olden describes his experience in high school - part one
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Kenneth Olden describes his experience in high school - part two
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Kenneth Olden talks about graduating from high school, attending Knoxville College, and his interest in becoming a scientist
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Kenneth Olden describes the difference between research laboratories and teaching laboratories
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Kenneth Olden describes his experience at Knoxville College and talks about his chemistry teacher and mentor, Dr. Mertin
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Kenneth Olden describes his experience in the undergraduate research program at the University of Tennessee before it was integrated
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Kenneth Olden talks about graduating from Knoxville College, working for a year, and starting graduate school at the University of Michigan
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Kenneth Olden describes his decision to attend the University of Michigan to pursue his master's degree in biology
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Kenneth Olden describes his experience at the University of Michigan
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Kenneth Olden describes his experience as a researcher at Columbia University, and his decision to pursue a Ph.D. degree at Temple University
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Kenneth Olden describes his doctoral dissertation in bioenergetics, and the characterization of the P503 pigment
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Kenneth Olden talks about his family's reaction and understanding of his career as a scientist
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Kenneth Olden talks about his experience in Knoxville, Tennessee during the Civil Rights Movement, and the peaceful integration of businesses there
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Kenneth Olden describes his experience as a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard University, and the characterization of a cell-wall mutant of E.coli
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Kenneth Olden describes his postdoctoral work on characterizing a cell-wall mutant of E.coli
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Kenneth Olden talks about ATP is the source of energy in protein degradation, and being cited in the 1972 Nobel Prize lecture
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Kenneth Olden describes his appointment at the National Cancer Institute in 1974, and becoming tenured in 1977
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Kenneth Olden talks about protein secretion
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Kenneth Olden describes his discovery that protein secretion does not require a carbohydrate tag
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Kenneth Olden describes the scientific community's reaction to his discovery that protein secretion does not require a carbohydrate tag
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Kenneth Olden talks about the Nobel Prize winning discovery of the peptide signal sequence that facilitates protein secretion
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Kenneth Olden talks about his research in finding a possible cure for melanoma, and the challenges that prevented it from being a feasible cure
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Kenneth Olden talks about the problems with chemotherapy as a treatment for cancer
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Kenneth Olden describes his decision to join the Howard University Cancer Center in 1978 - part one
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Kenneth Olden describes his decision to join the Howard University Cancer Center in 1978 - part two
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Kenneth Olden describes his service as the scientific director of the Howard University Cancer Center
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Kenneth Olden talks about his appointment as the director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) in 1991
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Kenneth Olden describes his tenure as the director of the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Kenneth Olden discusses the problems of holding positions of power for too long
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Kenneth Olden talks about the state of the Howard University Cancer Center after he left in 1991
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Kenneth Olden talks about his appointments at Harvard School of Public Health and the City University of New York [CUNY]
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Kenneth Olden talks about his appointment as the director of the National Center for Environmental Assessment at the EPA
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Kenneth Olden talks about the role of the National Center for Environmental Assessment at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - part one
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Kenneth Olden talks about the role of the National Center for Environmental Assessment at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - part two
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Kenneth Olden talks about the role of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and his service there
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Kenneth Olden talks about environmental justice
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Kenneth Olden talks about the dual role of genetic predisposition and environmental triggers in the manifestation of chronic diseases
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Kenneth Olden describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community today
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Kenneth Olden reflects upon his career
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Kenneth Olden reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Kenneth Olden talks about his family
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Kenneth Olden talks about how he would like to be remembered