Oral history interview with Linda C. Meade-Tollin

  • 2009-Oct-01

Linda C. Meade-Tollin was born and raised in London, West Virginia, one of two children. Her father was a dentist and a community activist, her mother a teacher of languages and a guidance counselor. Always enthusiastically encouraged by parents and teachers, Meade-Tollin did well in school, skipping two grades. When she was in ninth grade her high school was integrated, and the three top graduates in her year were black women. Although there were no science classes in her schools until high school, Meade-Tollin was always interested in science, and when she entered West Virginia State College she decided to major in chemistry. She worked at Harlem and Bellevue Hospitals before entering a chemistry PhD program at the City University of New York (CUNY) at the age of twenty one; a year later she transferred to a program in biochemistry. During her graduate career, Meade-Tollin spent time teaching and she traveled among the various CUNY campuses to do research with Burton Tropp—her doctoral thesis dealt with gene expression in E. coli.

Meade-Tollin’s first faculty appointment was at the College at Old Westbury, and, for part of her time there, she was also a visiting assistant professor at Rockefeller University, working on sickle cell anemia in Anthony Cerami’s lab. She met her future husband, Gordon Tollin, while he was on sabbatical from the University of Arizona at Bell Laboratories and Rockefeller University. She applied for and received a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral award at the University of Arizona; at the end of her award at Arizona, Meade-Tollin married and she also decided to stay at the University. She held several research, teaching, and administrative appointments there while also caring for elderly parents in her home. She was the only African-American woman to head a biomedical research laboratory at the University for many years; her areas of research focused on DNA damage, angiogenesis, and cancer invasion and metastasis. During this time she developed a reproducible and physiologically relevant bioassay for angiogenic inhibitors and enhancers suitable for drug discovery screening, and she spent a year as Faculty Development Fellow at Morehouse School of Medicine. Meade-Tollin has done many things in her career, but she considers her training and mentoring her greatest accomplishments.

She retired as a Research Assistant Professor Emerita in 2008. Now in retirement, Meade-Tollin is enjoying family, travel, health and fitness activities, and spiritual development. She is also Director of Anti-Metastasis Research for a biotech company, Cure Cancer Worldwide Corporation, and a consultant to Wish, a nutritional counseling company.

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