Digital Collections

Oral history interview with Brenda L. Bass

  • 1995-Jul-24 – 1995-Jul-26

Brenda L. Bass grew up in the 1960's in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Her parents were young and had no opportunity to finish college, taking jobs as realtors. As a result, Bass was often cared for by her maternal grandmother, to whom she attributes her independence, her toughness, and her love of the truth. Severely asthmatic and allergic, Bass lived at the Children's Asthma Research Institute and Hospital in Denver, Colorado, from age eleven to age twelve and a half. Here she developed a love for the West and a very different perspective on social conditions in the South, determining that she would always want to live in the West. She returned to Florida to finish her junior high school and high school years. She then attended Emory University for a year, studying English. Dissatisfied with the program, she took a semester off and then transferred to Colorado College, where she planned to study nutritional chemistry. Interest in nutritional chemistry developed into interest in chemistry and ultimately into biochemistry. After obtaining her BA she remained uncertain as to what she wanted to do, and she applied to Rush Medical College in Chicago, Illinois. She walked out of a nutritional chemistry class when the teacher brought out plastic models of foods. She became a research technician at Rush, which she worked at for three years before returning to University of Colorado, Boulder, to pursue a PhD in biochemistry. There she worked in Thomas R. Cech's lab, focusing on self-splicing RNA and its implications for biological catalysis. When she received her PhD, in 1985, she accepted a post-doc with Harold Weintraub in Seattle, Washington, where she worked at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center for four years. She then accepted an assistant professorship at the University of Utah, and from 1995 until the present she has been an associate professor there as well as and assistant investigator at Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She has published numerous papers; she is involved in conferences and committees; and her first love remains "the bench."

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