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Joanne Berger-Sweeney

Neurobiologist and academic administrator Joanne Berger-Sweeney was born in 1958. After graduating from Wellesley College in 1979, she went on to receive her M.P.H. degree in environmental health sciences from the University of California, Berkeley in 1981 and her Ph.D. degree in neurotoxicology from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in 1989.

Following her graduate training, she worked for two years at the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM), a multidisciplinary public health research institution in France. Berger-Sweeney then joined Wellesley College in 1991 as the Allene Lummis Russell Professor in Neuroscience and was named associate dean in 2004. As the associate dean, Joanne Berger-Sweeney oversaw twenty academic departments and programs. Not only was she active in the Minority Mentoring Program at Wellesley College, but she also served as director of the Neurosciences Program and as the director of the Society for Neuroscience’s Minority Neuroscience Fellowship Program. In 2010, Berger-Sweeney was appointed as Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Tufts University – the largest school at the university.

Joanne Berger-Sweeney’s research focuses on the neurobiology of learning and memory. She has helped to advance understanding of normal memory and cognitive processes and how these processes malfunction in neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders, such as Rett syndrome and Alzheimer's disease. She is a member of the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives and has served on numerous national and professional boards and committees. Berger-Sweeney has been a member of the Behavioral Neuroscience Review Panel of the National Science Foundation, a member of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Study Section panel, and a member of the editorial board of Behavioral Neuroscience. She was also treasurer for the Society for Neuroscience.

Her honors include being named a Fellow by the Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience, receiving a Lifetime Mentoring Achievement Award from the Society for Neuroscience, and a National Science Foundation Young Investigator award. In 2012, she was elected as a Fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Joanne Berger-Sweeney was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 23, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.008

Sex

Female

Interview Date

4/23/2013

Last Name

Berger-Sweeney

Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Eileen

Schools

Morningside High School

Wellesley College

University of California, Berkeley

John Hopkins University Bloomberg School

National Institute of Health (France)

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Joanne

Birth City, State, Country

Los Angeles

HM ID

BER01

Favorite Season

Fall

State

California

Favorite Vacation Destination

Istanbul, Galapagos Islands

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Interview Description
Birth Date

9/21/1958

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Boston

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Fish

Short Description

Neurobiologist and academic administrator Joanne Berger-Sweeney (1958 - ) is Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Tufts University and a Fellow of in the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Employment

California Department of Health

Engineering Science, Inc. (Parsons)

Wellesley College

Tufts University

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Joanne Berger-Sweeney's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about her mother's growing up in Atlanta, Georgia and her educational background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about her father's educational background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about why her father moved to California

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about her family's move to Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about her parents and her likeness to them

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about her brothers

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about growing up in Baldwin Hills and Inglewood, California

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Los Angeles

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about her elementary school experience

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about Disneyland's exclusion policy and her participation in the grape protest on behalf of the United Farm Workers

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about her the role of her church during the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about her mother's advocacy for her education and her emerging interest in science during her middle school years

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about her mother's influence and her intellectual development and her early interest in biology and psychology

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about growing up near the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California and her love for the Los Angeles Dodgers

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about her experience in Malaysia

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about her interest in reading during her high school years

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney reflects on her experience in Malaysia

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about her decision to attend Wellesley College

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about her mother's influence on her decision to major in psychobiology and her mother's dying of a brain aneurysm

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about her experience at Wellesley College

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about her experience at the University of California, Berkeley

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about her research on wastewater management and toxicology at the University of California, Berkeley

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about her disinterest in becoming a doctor and her decision to pursue her graduate studies in neurotoxicology

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about her post-graduate jobs

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about her decision to pursue her doctoral studies at Johns Hopkins University

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about her experience and her research interests at Johns Hopkins University

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about her experience in Joseph Coyle's research lab at Johns Hopkins University

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about the mentorship of Joseph Coyle

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about her dissertation research, part 1

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about her dissertation research, part 2

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about her experience in France at the National Institute for Health and Medical Research

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about the distinction between degenerative and developmental disorders, such as Rett Syndrome and Schizophrenia

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about Rett Syndrome

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about the prognosis of Rett Syndrome

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about her decision to join the faculty at Wellesley College

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about receiving the Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about her research at Wellesley College

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about her professional awards and activities

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about her transition into academic administration and becoming dean at Tufts University

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about her responsibilities as dean and goals for the future of Tufts University

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about balancing her administrative responsibilities with her research duties

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about the Center on Race and Democracy at Tufts University

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about her continuing research on developmental disorders and her future administrative aspirations

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about her appointment as fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about encouraging young people to pursue careers in science

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about society's value of women

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney reflects on her life choices

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney reflects on her legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about her children

Tape: 7 Story: 12 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney reflects on how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Joanne Berger-Sweeney describes her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$6

DAStory

3$3

DATitle
Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about her mother's advocacy for her education and her emerging interest in science during her middle school years
Joanne Berger-Sweeney talks about her decision to join the faculty at Wellesley College
Transcript
Well, where did you go to middle school?$$I went to middle school--by that time, we had moved to Inglewood [California], and I went to Monroe Junior High School. It was a two-year junior high school. That was the system in Inglewood at the time. And when I moved to Inglewood, and the fact that I was so--that I was younger than the average student there, when we moved to Inglewood, they wanted to hold me back a year. And my mother [Arminta Odessa Parks] said, "You must be kidding." So she went and she met with the counselors and they said, "Oh, she's going to have so much trouble, you know, coming from the L.A. School District to Inglewood. That's such a strong school district and she's a young--a year younger." And she said, "Put her in this class. She will not be held back for a year." My mother was--she told me--a relatively mild-mannered person until she had children, until she had to go stand up for her children. And she--it felt like she was in school, you know, almost weekly, kind of telling them, you know, what we needed. She was very, very much an activist, you know, parent. So, they let me in to seventh grade, and I remember, you know, doing well. I was a "B" to, you know, "A, B" student. And it's in middle school that I remember liking science, starting to take science classes and enjoying it. That's when I remember science, around middle school. And I remember people saying, "Oh, you're smart. You're going to be a doctor." You know, in the black neighborhoods that I was growing up in, the smartest people became doctors.$$Right.$$And so, if I was smart, and if I had any kind of talent or ability in math--and I remember kind of enjoying math--everyone just told me from my earliest days, "Oh, obviously, you're going to be a doctor," even though I came from a family of lawyers, and there were many more lawyers in our family; but they just said from the earliest time, "You're going to be a doctor." And I also remember in--at some point in junior high school, I was a part of Drill Team, and Monroe Junior High School is very well known for having very good, you know, Drill Team. And also Inglewood is now known for having very good basketball players. So, you know, some people refer to the fact that in Inglewood you were doing one or two things: balling or banging. So, by the time I was in high school, you were either a member of a gang or probably playing basketball. And back to junior school, I remember, my last name was S, Sweeney, and I sat next to Reggie Theus, who ended up being a Chicago Bull, if I'm not mistaken.$$Yes, he did. I used to watch him every week.$$Yes. And Reggie Theus was very handsome and tall, and I remember sitting next to him in science class, and he would look over at my paper because I was the smart one in the class, and he knew I'd have the right answers. And can you imagine telling Reggie Theus he couldn't look at your paper? I remember I was not willing to do that, and I, you know. So that was--sitting next to me, to my right, alphabetically in junior high school, was Reggie Theus.$$Yeah. Reggie Theus. He played many years for the Bulls.$$Yep.$$I think he's an assistant coach out in Sacramento [California].$$Oh, maybe. And he was like a male model. I mean, he was gorgeous. And he was, you know, he probably doesn't remember me, but I remember him because he became quite famous. And so I remember very specifically being good at science, and people would want to look at, you know, my papers, because I was--I enjoyed it. I was good at it. I thought it was fun.$Alright. Now, in 1991--$$Yes.$$--you joined the faculty at Wellesley--$$At Wellesley College.$$--where you got your bachelor's of science (simultaneous)--$$Correct. Bachelor of Arts. All of the bachelors at Wellesley are bachelor of arts.$$Okay. Alright.$$So they don't have bachelor of sciences. They figure everyone needs broad liberal arts training for life.$$Now, how do you feel about that?$$I completely agree. I am such a strong proponent of liberal arts education. It's not just about getting your first job. It's about a lifetime and the breadth that a liberal arts education brings, there's just nothing like it; nothing comparable.$$Okay. Okay. So, Wellesley (simultaneous)--$$So Wellesley College--$$--faculty. Who's the president (simultaneous)--$$Exactly. Currently it's Kim Bottomly, is the president. She came from Yale University. She's a immunobiologist-immunologist. Before that was Diana Chapman-Walsh, who was a sociologist, had come from Harvard [University] School of Public Health, and before that was Nan [Nannerl Overholser] Keohane, and Nan Keohane is actually the president that hired me. She had been at Stanford University, and after she left Wellesley College, she became the president of Duke University and retired from that position. But Nan Keohane actually called me when I was in Paris [France], so I had come and I'd had an interview, and Wellesley decided that I was their top candidate and I was--I went back to Paris, which is where I was living and doing my post-doc, and the president of Wellesley College called me in Paris and said, "Joanne, I think you would love coming to Wellesley College. I would like to encourage you in any way to come." And, you know, to get the president to the college to call you when you're, you know, kind of a postdoctoral fellow looking for your first job, was pretty exciting. So, thank you, Nan Keohane. (laughs). It was a terrific move. I would have never guessed that I would go back to my undergraduate institution. But I do remember one day when I was riding on an elevator at Johns Hopkins University, and I had worked with someone, a physician, the day before. He'd been on our floor asking questions, and he got on the elevator the next day as if he didn't know me, he'd never seen me before; and I thought, "I don't want to spend my career in a place like this. I want to be someplace where the people know me, I know the people." That as much as I love science, I thought I would probably be happiest in a broader liberal arts setting where I'd have friends in the French department, and the philosophy department, and not just sciences. And while I was at Hopkins [Johns Hopkins University], as much as I enjoyed being there, all of my friends were scientists and science-related. And I didn't want my life to be that way. So I think while I was in graduate school, I said to myself, I think my choice is to go back to a liberal arts institution and not necessarily--as much as I love science, I chose to do my science in a broader college/university setting.

Wayne Bowen

Biology and Pharmacology Professor Wayne Darrell Bowen was born to (mother) and (father) in 1952. As a child, Bowen knew early on that he was interested in pursuing a career in science, and indeed, he went on to earn his B.S. degree in Chemistry from Morgan State College, in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1974. Bowen then pursued a graduate degree with a major in biochemistry and a minor in neuropharmacology, graduating from Cornell University with his Ph.D. degree after completing a thesis on the biochemical process of cholesterol synthesis.
Bowen went on to do his postdoctoral work from 1980 to 1983 at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), a research institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) located in Bethesda, Maryland, where his work centered on opiate receptor biochemistry. From 1983 to 1991 Bowen taught courses in endocrinology, introductory biology, and biochemistry at Brown University as an Assistant Professor of Biology. During his time at Brown, Bowen also founded the macromolecular biochemistry facility on campus, which provided campus and surrounding medical facilities with synthetic peptide compounds.
From 1991 until 2004, Bowen served as tenured chief of the Unit on Receptor Biochemistry and Pharmacology at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases in Bethesda, Maryland, working in the Drug Design and Synthesis Section of the Laboratory of Medicinal Chemistry. During his time as Chief, Bowen continued to lecture for undergraduate students at Brown University, serving as both Adjunct Professor of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, and Biochemistry as well as Adjunct Professor of Neuroscience. During a corresponding period, from 1999 to 2004, Bowen also chaired the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology of the NIH Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences Graduate School.
In 2004, Bowen returned to the task of educating future scientists as a full-time Professor of Biology at Brown University, teaching in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biotechnology. Bowen was then appointed Chair of his department in 2007. His research at Brown focuses on the potential for developing new treatments for disease through the understanding of sigma receptors, specifically treatment for neurological disorders and cancer.
Bowen has served as President of the Black Scientists Association at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2001and is a member of the Society for Neuroscience, the American Association for Cancer Research, and the International Brain Research Organization/World Federation of Neuroscientists. He has also received a Certificate of Appreciation from the Student and Teacher Internship Program at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and NIH as well as an Award of Appreciation from the Science and Engineering Fair at Morgan State University. In addition, he was also awarded a Certificate of Recognition from the NIH Speakers Bureau and a Special Recognition Award from the Undergraduate Scholarship Program at NIH, as well as numerous research grants.

Accession Number

A2012.216

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/9/2012

Last Name

Bowen

Maker Category
Middle Name

D.

Occupation
Schools

Morgan State University

Cornell University

Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson Elementary

Baltimore City College

William H. Lemmel Middle

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Wayne

HM ID

BOW07

Favorite Season

Summer

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Rhode Island

Interview Description
Birth Date

11/11/1952

Speakers Bureau Region City

Providence

Favorite Food

Steak

Short Description

Biologist Wayne Bowen (1952 - ) is a professor of biology and pharmacology and a biologist studying alternative treatments for disease at Brown University.

Employment

National Institute of Mental Health (NIH)

Brown University

Cornell University

National Institute of Health (NIH)

Smith, Kline and French

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Wayne Bowen's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Wayne Bowen lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Wayne Bowen talks about his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Wayne Bowen talks about his mother's education and career

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Wayne Bowen talks about his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Wayne Bowen talks about his father's growing up and his career

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Wayne Bowen talks about how his parents met, married, and later moved to Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Wayne Bowen talks about his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Wayne Bowen describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Wayne Bowen describes his childhood neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Wayne Bowen describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Wayne Bowen talks about his interest in music during his adolescence

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Wayne Bowen talks about his interest in science and his experiments with his Gilbert chemistry set

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Wayne Bowen talks about his interest in science and his aspirations for a career as a scientist

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Wayne Bowen talks about his family's involvement in both the Baptist and Methodist church

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Wayne Bowen talks about his elementary school, his early science education, his interest in chemistry, and his favorite high school science teachers

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Wayne Bowen talks about his friend's death, his social life in junior high school and his junior high school science projects

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Wayne Bowen talks about his high school extracurricular activities and his interest in photography

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Wayne Bowen talks about his band, St. George's Gate

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Wayne Bowen talks about his experience playing in a musical production

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Wayne Bowen talks about his decision to attend Morgan State University

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Wayne Bowen talks about his high school experience at Baltimore City College, including the demographics of the school and his job as a photographer

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Wayne Bowen talks about missing Jimi Hendricks perform at the Baltimore Civic Center

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Wayne Bowen talks about his mentors, his jobs, and his experience in the chemistry department at Morgan State University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Wayne Bowen talks about his extracurricular activities and his experience being a commuter student at Morgan State University

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Wayne Bowen talks about his undergraduate research project on porphyrins

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Wayne Bowen talks about his emerging interest in biochemistry and his decision to attend Cornell University

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Wayne Bowen talks about his first research publication and his introduction to the field of pharmacology

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Wayne Bowen talks about his Ph.D. advisor, James Gaylor, and his experience at Cornell University

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Wayne Bowen talks about his dissertation research on the biochemical process of cholesterol synthesis - part one

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Wayne Bowen talks about his dissertation research on the biochemical process of cholesterol synthesis - part two

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Wayne Bowen talks about graduating from Cornell University and his interest in pharmacology at the National Institute of Mental Health

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Wayne Bowen describes his postdoctoral research on the biochemistry of opioid receptors at the National Institute of Mental Health

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Wayne Bowen talks about establishing the Macromolecular Biochemistry Facility at Brown University

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Wayne Bowen describes the pharmacology of sigma receptors

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Wayne Bowen talks about his research on opioid receptors

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Wayne Bowen talks about his research on sigma receptors - part one

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Wayne Bowen talks about the role of sigma receptors in cancer research

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Wayne Bowen talks about his research with sigma receptors - part two

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Wayne Bowen talks about his professional activities and his research on sigma receptors and their implications for cancer research

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Wayne Bowen talks about his research with sigma receptors - part three

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Wayne Bowen talks about the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Black Scientists Association and its initiatives

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Wayne Bowen talks about becoming Chair of the Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology and Biotechnology at Brown University

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Wayne Bowen talks about his duties as Chair of the Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biotechnology at Brown University

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Wayne Bowen talks about the potential uses of the sigma-1 receptor and emerging areas of research

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Wayne Bowen talks about therapies that have been developed from the sigma 2 receptor

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Wayne Bowen talks about the field of structural biology

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Wayne Bowen talks about how street drugs can inform pharmacological research

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Wayne Bowen talks about the physiology of drug addiction

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Wayne Bowen talks about the hallucinogen, ibogaine, its psychoactive effects, and its potential therapeutic uses

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Wayne Bowen reflects upon his life choices

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Wayne Bowen reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Wayne Bowen shares his advice for aspiring scientists and pharmacologists

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Wayne Bowen talks about his family

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Wayne Bowen talks about his interest in history and the Civil War

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Wayne Bowen talks about his hobbies

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Wayne Bowen talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Wayne Bowen describes his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$6

DAStory

4$3

DATitle
Wayne Bowen talks about his professional activities and his research on sigma receptors and their implications for cancer research
Wayne Bowen talks about the potential uses of the sigma-1 receptor and emerging areas of research
Transcript
So, I went back to NIH [National Institutes of Health] in 1991.$$Okay, alright. The director of--$$And became director, a unit chief down there, and stayed down there until 2004.$$Okay.$$And during that whole time I was at NIH, we did, the work was completely focused on sigma receptors. And we published a number of papers showing that sigma receptors were present in an organ now called lipid rafts, and that that might influence their function. We discovered that the sigma receptors, when activated, produces a change of calcium levels in cells, which is a known second messenger that can change signaling and biochemistry in cells. We found that turning on the sigma receptor increases the levels of a lipid called ceramic, which is a toxic lipid that has a number of targets in cells, and can turn on the apoptotic process. And at the same time, we developed a whole series of compounds through our collaboration with a medicinal chemist. The main chemist that I collaborated with was Brian DeCosta, who was at the NIH then. There was another chemist called Craig, his name was Craig Bertha, who made some compounds that we, he made a compound that we're still using today, that's sort of a prototypic selective sigma 2 receptor agonist. We're always interested in--so, once we found that there were two sub-types of the receptor--so, we were first interested in designing compounds that were selected for the sigma receptor system. And we found a few of those. But now what we're trying to do is hone compounds to be selected for either the sigma 1 or the sigma 2 receptor. And we found a few of those, working with our medicinal chemist colleagues. So then in 2004 I moved back to Brown [University], and joined The Department of Molecular Pharmacology Physiology And Biotechnology, and continued to work on the sigma receptor system. And continuing now with more of a focus on what they're doing in tumor cells, how they are affecting cell growth and proliferation, with a main focus on the ability of the sigma 2 receptor to turn on the apoptosis. And the discovery there was that cells that are resistant--forms of cancer that are resistant to chemotherapy, like pancreatic cancer, is resistant to a number of chemotherapeutic approaches, are susceptible to the sigma receptor. So, we can kill--we looked at three different pancreatic cancer cell lines that are readily killed by activating the sigma 2 receptor when these cells are resistant to other types of chemotherapeutic agents. So, the signaling mechanisms that are turned on by the sigma 2 receptor apparently go in directions that bypass a number of the molecules that are mutated in cancer. Cancer is a problem of unrestricted cell growth, so proliferation. And the way cancer cells do that, is they, there are mutations and molecules that are normally designed to turn on the cell death process. So, cells have a, all the cells in your body, with the exception of your neurons, have a time clock in them, and they'll divide for a certain number of times. And then that cell will turn on an apoptotic program, and basically commit suicide.$$This is the process of replenishing--$$The process of replenishing cells. And in cancer cells, that process is sabotaged, it's hijacked, because the biochemistry that's used to turn on that cell death process is altered in tumor cells. So, these cells escape this apoptotic process. And what we're trying to do with these chemotherapeutic agents is turn that process back on. And apparently, what the sigma 2 receptor does is turn on the programs that sort of bypass these roadblocks in the apoptotic pathway, so that if you have a cell that is resistant to chemotherapy, turning on the sigma 2 receptor opens up another pathway, because there are multiple ways to kill a cell. And the tumor cells haven't figured out yet all of those ways. So we try, so the sigma 2 receptor finds a way to exploit a system that's not yet been altered, and that's a very, that will be a very valuable tool. Because if all tumor cell types, or most tumor cell types, express these receptors, then you have sort of a broad spectrum of tools to attack a number of different types of tumors. So, since coming back to Brown [University], we've focused on that. I've had a couple of post-docs that have worked on this project. Shee Wong worked on looking at the mechanism of how the cells are able to use the mitochondrial pathway to turn on cell deaths. This is a relatively novel discovery, that the mitochondria in cells can be involved in committing this type of cell suicide.$Now, where do you see the field of sigma receptors heading in the next decade?$$So, I think we're in a state, at a stage in the field now where we're just beginning to figure out what these receptors might be doing. There are people studying this system from a number of angles. So, most of the, if you were talking to me five years ago, I would say that most of the people in the field are coming into the field from neuroscience, because they were originally thought to be opioid receptors. And so, people of my age group, I guess, generation, started out studying opioid receptors, from a standpoint of the CNS [central nervous system]. But in recent years, the field has branched into other areas. So, one of the areas where the field is going is in the area of drug abuse. It turns out that the sigma 1 receptor is a target for, a potential target, for developing drugs to treat drug abuse. One of my colleagues I collaborated with is Ray Natsomoti, who's now at West Virginia University, and has pioneered this work in showing that the sigma receptor, that the sigma 1 receptor, when it's blocked, will ameliorate some of the toxic effects of cocaine, some of the local motor effects of cocaine. One of the things that, one of the toxicities of cocaine is that it causes convulsions at high dosages. And she found that if you block sigma 1 receptors with sigma 1 receptor antagonists, that you block the convulsive effects of cocaine. And so, and you can do this even after the animal has been given a dose of cocaine, a convulsive dose of cocaine. So, that's a potential therapeutic use of the sigma 1 receptor, targeting the sigma 1 receptor. Others have shown that blockade of the sigma 1 receptor has effects on drug self-administration. So, if you train animals to self-administer cocaine or-- there's a group at Boston [Massachusetts] that's doing alcohol, and give them sigma 1 antagonists, that you can block or inhibit drug self-administration in these animals. But more importantly, it's been shown that blockade of the sigma 1 receptor blocks the process that's called, the process where the animal begins to self-administer again after they've been off the drug for a while, so re-instatement, it's called. So, you if make an animal addicted to cocaine, and give him certain--and then take the animal off cocaine, and then give certain cues, the animal will go back to self-administering cocaine. And this is thought to be what happens in humans, where they go to rehab and they're off drugs for a while, and there are certain cues--stress, other cues, that get them self-administering drugs again. And it's been shown that blocking the sigma 1 receptor will block this re-instatement process. So, there are people who are interested in targeting the sigma 1 receptor for treatment of drug abuse, and I think that's a direction that the field is going to go. The other major direction, also involving a sigma 1 receptor, is learning and memory. The sigma 1 receptor is expressing a part of the brain called the hippocampus. And it's been shown by a group in France that blocking sigma 1 receptors in the hippocampus will induce memory loss in animal models of learning and memory. So, there are several animal models where you can train a rat to find a floating block in a pool. Or, you train a rat to do a certain task, you know, go through a maze to find food. If you give them blockers of sigma 1 receptors after they've been trained, they forget how to do it. If you put a rat in a pool that's been trained to find a block of wood, they can't. They swim around like it's, like they never had that experience. So, the corollary of that the activating sigma 1 receptors must play a role in acquisition of learning and reinstatement of memory. So, there are people who are interested in developing sigma 1 receptor agonists for treatment of memory deficits, like Alzheimer's disease, or just any sort of cognitive defect they have. So, cognitive enhancing agents is another sort of way that the sigma receptor field is going at the current.

Erich Jarvis

Neurobiologist Erich D. Jarvis was born on May 6, 1965, in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City to musicians James Jarvis and Sasha Valeria McCall. Growing up in an artistic but poverty-stricken household, Jarvis found an early passion for dance, which led him to the High School of the Performing Arts. He graduated from high school in 1983 and turned down an audition for the African American dance company, Alvin Ailey to attend Hunter College. As an undergraduate, he worked as a Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) Fellow and researched protein synthesis genes in bacteria. After obtaining his B.A. degree in mathematics and biology in 1988, Jarvis pursued his Ph.D. degree in molecular neurobiology and animal behavior at The Rockefeller University where he researched vocal learning in songbirds. He received his Ph.D. degree in 1995 and stayed at The Rockefeller University to conduct postdoctoral research.

After completing his postdoctoral research, Jarvis joined the faculty of The Rockefeller University as an adjunct assistant professor and also participated in the Science Outreach Program of New York where he taught laboratory skills to inner city high school students. He left Rockefeller in 1998 to become an assistant professor in the Department of Neurobiology at Duke University. Jarvis also served as an assistant professor in the Department of Cognitive Neuroscience and the Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology. In 2005, he led the Avian Brain Nomenclature Consortium, a team of twenty-eight neuroscientists, who proposed a new nomenclature for the bird brain to better reflect a bird’s similarities with mammals in cognitive abilities. Jarvis also became a tenured associate professor at Duke in 2005 and in 2008, he was chosen to become an Investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He has been an invited contributor for several books and has published more than fifty scholarly articles.

Jarvis has been recognized as a young pioneer in his field, and his research and study of songbird neurology has won him many awards including the National Science Foundation Alan T. Waterman Award, the Dominion Award: Strong Men and Women of Excellence: African American Leaders and the National Institute for the Humanities’ Director’s Pioneer Award in 2005. He has served as the director of the Neuroscience Scholars Program for The Society of Neuroscience, a member of Duke University’s Council on Black Affairs and a founding member of the Black Collective at Duke. Jarvis and his wife, Miriam Rivas, live in Durham, North Carolina and have two children.

Erich Jarvis was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 20, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.041

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/20/2012

Last Name

Jarvis

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

D.

Occupation
Schools

Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts

Hunter College

The Rockefeller University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Erich

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

JAR05

Favorite Season

Spring

Sponsor

National Science Foundation

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Brazil

Favorite Quote

It doesn't matter what you do in life, do it well.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Interview Description
Birth Date

5/6/1965

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Greens (Collard)

Short Description

Neurobiologist Erich Jarvis (1965 - ) was an expert on song-associative learning in songbirds and in 2005, he led a team which created a new nomenclature for the bird brain.

Employment

Hunter College

Rockefeller University Dr. Fernando Nottebohm Laboratory

Rockefeller University

Duke University Medical Center Department of Neurobiology

Duke University Center for Cognitive Neuroscience

Duke University Center for Bioinformatics & Computational Biology

Duke University Medical Center Development Biology Program

Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)

Main Sponsor
Main Sponsor URL
Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:15186,218:15574,223:24343,274:42970,533:43280,539:43714,547:44458,565:46690,618:47744,645:51970,691:52950,708:58550,802:64940,840:66320,857:83210,1144:83738,1153:84134,1160:97734,1337:98280,1345:103194,1627:106260,1633:106764,1644:109355,1740:110030,1754:110555,1763:110930,1769:113405,1820:115730,1869:117380,1892:124612,1940:125074,1947:126306,1975:132158,2071:132620,2085:133082,2092:136008,2144:136393,2150:142920,2203:143976,2221:148464,2321:148992,2331:150708,2371:167300,2550:167690,2556:170290,2582:171186,2601:172146,2620:173170,2638:173746,2648:174194,2656:178490,2691:182486,2736:183716,2753:184044,2758:187816,2826:188390,2834:188718,2839:189292,2857:191178,2878:192736,2909:193638,2931:193966,2936:204907,3085:205873,3110:206356,3118:207253,3134:207598,3140:208081,3172:209116,3186:220143,3290:225850,3325:229240,3386:229786,3395:230488,3405:240922,3703:250974,3858:251685,3870:252396,3881:253265,3894:253976,3905:259900,3955$0,0:7168,113:7742,120:8726,136:13977,195:15965,266:19941,356:20225,361:20793,371:21290,379:22071,391:22355,396:26544,483:30440,493:32600,575:43495,734:56639,875:57974,893:62527,944:64061,969:69591,1038:70798,1063:74774,1119:75058,1124:77117,1150:78892,1185:82743,1196:85157,1243:85441,1248:87713,1286:97795,1395:98200,1402:103951,1482:105895,1523:107758,1564:108082,1569:117988,1674:118292,1679:122092,1747:122396,1752:123764,1787:125436,1818:132244,1863:136600,1964:136864,1969:137656,1982:139174,2011:139636,2019:141088,2053:141550,2061:147660,2112:148105,2118:148728,2127:149796,2148:150241,2155:150864,2163:158619,2254:179590,2635:180542,2652:188466,2750:189267,2760:190157,2772:193895,2865:194607,2875:200378,2978:204921,3050:218760,3204
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Erich Jarvis Interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Erich Jarvis lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Erich Jarvis describes his mother's family history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Erich Jarvis tells about his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Erich Jarvis talks about life for African Americans in Harlem

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Erich Jarvis talks about his parents' activism in the 1960s

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Erich Jarvis describes his father's history (part 1)

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Erich Jarvis describes his father's history (part 2)

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Erich Jarvis talks about his family's African ancestors

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Erich Jarvis talks about racial discrimination his ancestors faced

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Erich Jarvis talks about ethnic diversity

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Erich Jarvis talks about his father

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Erich Jarvis tells how his parents met at High School of Performing Arts

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Erich Jarvis talks about his father's schizophrenia and drug use

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Erich Jarvis talks about his siblings

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Erich Jarvis shares his earliest memories of growing up in the Bronx, Harlem and Queens

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Erich Jarvis talks about his parents' separation

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Erich Jarvis talks about the effects of his parents' separation

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Erich Jarvis describes his elementary school and his desire to be a magician

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Erich Jarvis talks about his move to Hartford, Connecticut

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Erich Jarvis talks about his role models

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Erich Jarvis discusses his interest in dance

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Erich Jarvis talks about the cultural and religious attitudes of his family

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Erich Jarvis talks about his early experience with dance

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Erich Jarvis talks about his experience at the High School of Performing Arts

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Erich Jarvis talks about his interest in science and his involvement in dance

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Erich Jarvis talks about studying science at Hunter College

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Erich Jarvis talks about his father's life and reunion with his family

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Erich Jarvis describes his award-winning research on Bacillus subtilis

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Erich Jarvis tells how he met his wife, Miriam, at Hunter College

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Erich Jarvis describes the faculty at Hunter College

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Erich Jarvis talks about his sickle cell research

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Erich Jarvis talks about race and the graduate school application process

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Erich Jarvis explains his research on Zebra Finches and canaries at Rockefeller University

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Erich Jarvis talks about vocalization in songbirds

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Erich Jarvis talks about brain mapping and animal intelligence

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Erich Jarvis talks about the genetic similarity between dogs and humans

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Erich Jarvis discusses increased intelligence among vocal learning species

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Erich Jarvis shares his hypothesis about brain pathways in vocal learning species

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Erich Jarvis talks about current research on speech pathways

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Erich Jarvis talks about parrots and imitation

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Erich Jarvis talks about how Snowball the cockatiel developed the ability to dance

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Erich Jarvis talks about the relationship of singing, gesturing, and learning

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Erich Jarvis shares his hypothesis about savants and brain connectivity

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Erich Jarvis talks about his current research on vocal learning systems

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Erich Jarvis talks about his father's death

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Erich Jarvis discusses how his research relates to mental illness

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Erich Jarvis reflects on his career at Duke University

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Erich Jarvis talks about his children

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Erich Jarvis talks about his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Erich Jarvis reflects on his career and his legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Erich Jarvis talks about his wife and their separation

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Erich Jarvis comments on diversity at Duke University and the importance of perseverance

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Erich Jarvis talks about how he would like to be remembered

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Erich Jarvis talks about race and the graduate school application process
Erich Jarvis shares his hypothesis about savants and brain connectivity
Transcript
Okay. Ah, okay, so in '88' [1988] you entered a Ph.D. program? Ah, now what happened between--wait a minute, let's see. You graduated in '88' [1988], yeah.$$Yes. I stayed at Hunter College [New York, New York] for five years to do a double major and then I actually had enough to practically get a Ph.D. for my undergraduate work. So I published--altogether after I graduated, I finished publishing more, six papers, as an undergraduate student. I think three of them I was first author. So I talked to Rivka Rudner and a few other faculty members about the possibility of getting my Ph.D., staying another two years and getting my Ph.D. early. And a lot of them, some of them liked that idea, but a number of them encouraged me to go elsewhere, to do something that I really want to do beyond studying bacteria. So, I listened to that advice, and what was my passion? My passion was understanding how the brain works, was one of them. And the other possibility was understanding the origin of the universe. It seemed two different things, but I wanted to take on something big--and so, one of those two. So, I started applying to graduate school programs to do one of those two, to have the opportunity to do either or. And that was in what, '87' [1987], '88' [1988]?$$'88' [1988].$$Yeah. And so I applied to all the top schools like MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge Massachusetts], Harvard [Harvard University, Cambridge, Massaachusets], Yale [Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut]and Johns Hopkins [John Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland] and so on, and actually got into all of them, except for Stanford [Stanford University, Stanford, California]. I think they're the only ones who didn't take me. And that was quite exciting back then because I realize now--I didn't realize before, but they, a lot of people didn't expect that to happen, because Hunter College wasn't considered an Ivy League school. So, you usually go from MIT to Harvard, or from Harvard to Stanford, you know. But to me, you know, I didn't know that. And it didn't matter to me either. And so by the fact that I had these publications as an undergraduate student--I had more publications than people coming from Harvard, MIT or Stanford. And what I learned later on, by the fact that I was a person of color who did this, it really surprised people a lot. And I think, I know, actually, the combination of my scientific success as an undergraduate student and my color actually even made me more competitive to get into these programs. And I realized that even later on when I was--for my faculty position, something similar happened, and it started to hit me that the color of my skin actually was a big disadvantage for many years. And suddenly, for a moment of time, it became an advantage, because they want this colored person who's good at what they do, and we need him, because it's going to look good for us. And actually it was a sad reality for me. I realized it's going to be a disadvantage, and in some rare cases an advantage, but rarely neutral. And it made me realize also, after all those years of other people--years of other people, that who was the advantage for? You know, what's been happening?$$Okay. So, now how did you decide on Rockefeller University?$$So, yes. Rockefeller [Rockefeller University, New York, New York], I, what was different about them compared to the four schools that I was really down to--it was between Rockefeller, MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts], Harvard [Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts] and Yale [Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut]. And I chose Rockefeller because their approach was to let you have freedom to do what you want to do in the lab, and let you explore more. And they had some buzz words in there, that we are looking to generate the leaders of science, not just the regular ordinary scientists.$Oh yeah, right. I was going to ask you about Thomas Bethune and other so-called idiot savants, who were able to master huge amounts of information it seems, on one hand, and then not be able to figure out, you know, how to tie their shoe on the other hand.$$Right, right, yes. So I'm fascinated by these things. And I'm beginning more and more to think that these are genetic differences that somebody like an idiot savant or a person--that's kinesthesia. This is where they see something that they--they see things, but they actually hear it instead of--it's been shown that their auditory cortex is processing the visual signals, and that's how come they see something that they hear.$$Right. I've heard that--I think they did something like that--oh, I read about where a person can see colors when they hear sounds.$$That's right, that's right. So, what I think is happening here is that there are differences in some connectivity of some brain pathways that have become enhanced for, you know, some visual processing, auditory processing, or just even processing in general that then leads to a decrement in some other brain pathway. And from my scientific perspective, at least, all species are forever changing themselves in the next generation to constantly adapt to new environments, to do something better than what the prior generation done before in terms of the genome. And what I think happens in savants-- and is just basic evolution--but not all things that change have all good sides to them, they have bad sides to them. And this is the same thing for genes and behavior.$$And it's for those who, I guess--Thomas Bethune, known as Blind Tom could play concertos and so forth, just after having just listened on a piano, just like he heard them.$$Right, right, right. Yeah, I've heard about that. That's amazing.$$There's a fellow now that can look at the horizon of a cityscape and then go on and draw, and draw every building--$$It's like photographic memory, yeah. I used to not believe that such people exist, but after reading about them more and more, I believe it does exist, which tells us also that our brains have a greater capacity than the average person has now.$$I have to ask you about that old saying that we only use one seventh of our brain.$$Right, yeah, that's right, ten percent of our brain, that's right.$$People always say that. Is there any truth to that?$$That's not true in the, let's say, in the more global sense. We use a lot of our brain from moment to moment to moment. I forget who presented this. Someone presented it--talked the other day where they were recording a thousand neurons from the brain with some type of neuro-activity markers. And based upon that, they did see that somewhere roughly ten percent of the neurons were active at any one particular second in time, okay. So, from one second in time, you know, one; ten percent, another second; another ten percent, another second; and another ten percent. So, but no one knows, no scientist that I know of knows where that old saying comes from, that you only use ten percent of--it's one of these mythical things.$$You hear it in the barbershop.$$that's right, yes, yeah.