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Oral history interview with Maureen J. Charron

  • 1999-Sep-07 – 1999-Sep-09

Oral history interview with Maureen J. Charron

  • 1999-Sep-07 – 1999-Sep-09

Maureen J. Charron has spent most of her life in New York City, New York. She was born on Long Island but grew up in Queens. The elder of two sisters born to parents of Italian and French Canadian descent, she attended parochial schools. She found that her all-girls high school, Mary Louis Academy, provided an excellent education as well as the security of a disciplined approach to education for women. She had always liked science and took as many classes as she could. The first in her family to go to college, she had to persuade her parents that further education was necessary for her; this she did at first by saying she wanted to be a doctor. For college she selected Queens College, then considered the "jewel" of the City University of New York system. When she decided she liked research and did not want to be a doctor, she accepted a position in the lab of Corinne Michels, at Queens College again, where, ironically, she worked on maltose fermentation genes of yeast for beer. She was intrigued to find that the ends of chromosomes appeared to be "hot spots" for recombinant DNA; eventually she developed this into her research into diabetes. Her PhD work at Queens went very well, and Charron had a number of offers from Ivy League colleges for postdoc work. She ended up taking a postdoc at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, where she worked in Harvey Lodish's lab, studying glucose transporters. Lodish required incomers to bring their own grants, so Charron acquired a new skill, obtaining a Jane Coffin Childs award. She loved the atmosphere at the Whitehead, the extravagant facilities, and Lodish's enthusiasm for any and all science; and she stuck to her own timeline of three years for a postdoc before beginning her job search. Charron accepted an offer from Albert Einstein College of Medicine. One of Einstein's main attractions for Charron was its founding principle that the school would not discriminate against women or on other grounds except scholarship. It was also important that the school had a diabetes lab already established, funded by the National Institutes of Health, and a transgenic mouse facility. In addition, Einstein offered a dynamic atmosphere, creatively-thinking scholars, and a location close to her family and friends. Charron has won a number of awards, including the Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences award, and is now an associate professor at Einstein. Charron finishes her interview with discussions of ethics in science and her experiences with unethical students; the difficulties women have in science, especially as they progress to faculty; tenure; grant writing; competition and collaboration; lab management and budgeting; and her professional and personal goals. She loves science, though she says she has Lodish's degree of enthusiasm for a more limited number of topics.

Property Value
Place of interview
  • 96 pages
  • 06:40:00
Rights Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License
Rights holder
  • Science History Institute
Credit line
  • Courtesy of Science History Institute

Institutional location

Oral history number 0439
Physical container
  • Shelfmark R134.86.C4377 A5 1999

Related Items

Interviewee biographical information

  • August 28, 1959
  • Brooklyn, New York, United States


Year Institution Degree Discipline
1981 Queens College (New York, N.Y.) BA
1983 Queens College (New York, N.Y.) MA
1985 City University of New York MPhil
1987 City University of New York PhD

Professional Experience

Queens College (New York, N.Y.)

  • 1981 to 1984 Graduate Fellow, Department of Biology
  • 1986 to 1987 Adjunct Lecturer, Department of Biology

Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research

  • 1987 to 1990 Postdoctoral Fellow

Albert Einstein College of Medicine

  • 1990 to 1995 Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry
  • 1995 to 2000 Associate Professor, Department of Biochemistry


Year(s) Award
1987 to 1989 Jane Coffin Childs Memorial Fund for Medical Research Award
1989 to 1990 Postdoctoral fellowship, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health
1992 to 1995 Career Development Award, American Diabetes Association
1993 to 1997 Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences
1998 to 2002 Irma T. Hirschl Career Scientist Award

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The published version of the transcript may diverge from the interview audio due to edits to the transcript made by staff of the Center for Oral History, often at the request of the interviewee, during the transcript review process.

Complete Interview Audio File Web-quality download

10 Separate Interview Segments Archival-quality downloads