Oral history interview with Michel Streuli

  • 1999-Nov-08 – 1999-Nov-09

Michel Streuli was born in Zürich, Switzerland, where his father was a doctor and his mother a law librarian. When he was about three, Michel and his family moved to Bronxville, New York, where his father had taken a postdoc. After a couple of years the family moved back to Switzerland, later returning to the United States, where Michel began school. In school he liked mathematics and engineering. He built a washing machine and an artificial kidney with his father when he was ten or twelve. In high school he enjoyed mathematics and science classes; he had a very good biology teacher. He tutored math in Harlem and enjoyed sports. He had always wanted to be a doctor and a scientist, and since Tufts was known to have a good program in child development and pediatrics, Michel began college there, with biology as his major. He also joined the squash team. After his junior year he went to Switzerland for a summer but stayed for a year. He finished his degree in the United States and then went back to Zürich to do research in Charles Weissman's lab, where he worked on cloning interferon. He returned after five years to the Dana-Farber Cancer Center to work in Stuart F. Schlossman's lab. He found a place in Haruo Saito's lab, working on cloning antigens, specifically the antigen CD45, the leukocyte common antigen. It had been cloned for a part of the rat gene but not for the human. During this period, he married Elsa Gontrum, who was studying art history at Yale. They have since had two children. After finishing his postdoc, he accepted an assistant professorship at the Dana-Farber Cancer Center and at Harvard University, in the department of pathology. He is now an associate professor and continues his research, hoping that eventually scientists will develop cancer therapies. He has patented some of his discoveries; he continues to publish articles and win awards; and he and his wife attempt to balance family life with their two careers.

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