Digital Collections

Oral history interview with Dean H. Kedes

  • 2007-Oct-25 – 2007-Oct-26

Dean H. Kedes' oral history begins with a discussion of his childhood and family life. Heavily influenced by his father, also a biomedical scientist, Kedes developed an interest in science early in life. He would visit his father's laboratory at Stanford University often and he became aware of its friendly and productive atmosphere. During his youth, he traveled abroad with his family in support of his father's research. Time spent in Italy and England, while also traveling to other parts of Europe, proved enriching. Kedes applied to college while in Europe and he subsequently chose to attend Stanford University. Upon matriculation, though, the ‘living on campus' experience made it seem as if he had gone to school farther away from home than was actually true. Starting from enrollment, Kedes pursued a major in biology with the intention of applying to medical school. His coursework and laboratory research in the neurobiology laboratory of Eric Shooter, however, increased his interest in pursuing basic science as well. Kedes decided to undertake a joint MD/PhD program at Yale University. After an uninspiring first laboratory rotation working on a descriptive Drosophila project, Kedes eventually joined the laboratory of Joan A. Steitz to study pre-mRNA splicing. Upon earning his MD/PhD, Kedes returned to Stanford University to undertake his clinical residency, though he experienced difficulty transitioning between laboratory research and clinical medicine. After completing his residency, Kedes built upon his laboratory research with post-doctoral studies in Donald Ganem's laboratory at the University of California, San Francisco. There Kedes developed his interests in the molecular biology of infectious diseases including Hepatitis B and Kaposi's Sarcoma-associated Herpes Virus (KSHV). Following his successful work with Ganem, Kedes was offered a position at the University of Virginia—a location at which both he and his wife could find work—and began the “thrill and excitement” of running his own laboratory. Throughout the interview Kedes emphasized the importance of balancing family life with laboratory work and creating a positive atmosphere within the laboratory, something that he works hard to maintain at the University of Virginia. Shortly after becoming a principal investigator, Kedes was awarded a Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences award and he reflected upon the importance of the award with respect to scientific funding and collaboration. Kedes also discussed funding in the United States more broadly, especially the problem of the attrition of science students due to a lack of funds as well as the national push towards translational research. The interview concluded with Kedes' reflections on the field of biomedical science, on scientific publishing, and on the public perception of science.

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