Digital Collections

Oral history interview with Brian D. Dylnacht

  • 2004-Aug-19 – 2004-Aug-20

Brian D. Dynlacht spent much of his youth in Coral Gables, Florida, one of three children. From his youth Dynlacht was impressed by his father, a man who suffered through the Holocaust as a child and survived through the kindness of Polish woman who hid Dynlacht's father from the Gestapo, and by his mother who raised her children while Dylnlacht's father traveled for work. He was fortunate to have several encouraging high school teachers who allowed him to broaden his intellectual interests; an experience in an organic chemistry lab as a high school senior kindled his enthusiasm for science. Dynlacht chose to attend Yale University for his undergraduate studies; the academic environment at Yale as well as his work in Paul Howard-Flanders's laboratory, further reinforced that he had a real passion for scientific research—specifically molecular biophysics and biochemistry. After completing his undergraduate degree, he moved on to the University of California, Berkeley for his PhD; in Robert Tjian's laboratory, Dynlacht researched transcription factors. After his graduate career, he decided to pursue research on gene regulation and cell-growth regulatory networks in a postdoctoral position at Massachusetts General Hospital with Edward Harlow. While he hoped to return to Berkeley as a professor, he ultimately accepted a faculty position at Harvard University, where his research continued on gene regulation and cell-growth regulatory networks. After several years, Dynlacht, realizing that New York was a better fit in terms of location, took a faculty position at New York University, specifically at the NYU Cancer Institute. In addition to heading his own lab, he became responsible for overseeing NYU's genomics facility in the Rusk Institute. While his benchwork time has decreased, other tasks, including overseeing his laboratory, writing grants, writing journal articles, reviewing papers, travelling, and, to a lesser degree, teaching, have come to occupy a significant part of his time as a principal investigator. The interview concludes with Dynlacht's reflections on how his laboratory and research have evolved in the past few years, and how these things might—and should—change in the next five to ten years. Additionally, he talks about broader scientific issues, including the complicated relationship between academic and industrial science, as well as the pros and cons of advanced technology in scientific research. He also expresses his opinions about national scientific policy and how scientists should be—but have not been—included in the discussion of public policy questions. The interview ends with a discussion of how women and ethnic minorities are represented in science, both broadly and at his own institution, as well as the impact that the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences has had on his work.

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