Digital Collections

Oral history interview with Carolyn E. Machamer

  • 1994-May-06 – 1994-May-07
  • 1995-May-03 – 1994-May-04

Carolyn E. Machamer was born and grew up in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan, the oldest of three sisters. Her extended family, mother's in California and father's in Pennsylvania, remains close. Her father was a microbiologist who met Carolyn's mother in San Diego, California while he was "collecting soil samples" for an oil company. After they married they moved to Detroit, where Mr. Machamer took a position at Parke, Davis. Although the family had a division of labor typical for that time, all three sisters attended excellent colleges and are very successful. Perhaps subconsciously inspired by her father, Carolyn evinced an early interest in science, particularly biology. She attended Bucknell University, taking all the science courses on offer and finishing with a major in biology. While at Bucknell, she worked on acrosomes in Sally Nyquist's lab Later she worked on BUDR and virus replication at the Michigan Cancer Foundation and then on poliovirus at National Cancer Institute. Machamer took a fellowship at Duke University and began work on SSPE virus. Her PhD was delayed by insufficient technology at the time and by the leavetaking of Hans J. Zweerink, her lab boss. She moved to Peter Cresswell's lab, where she finished her thesis research on major histocompatibility complex antigens. From Duke she went to a postdoc at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. There she worked in John K. Rose's lab, studying M glycoprotein and RNA viruses. Improved technology allowed a breakthrough in her coronavirus research, which she published after moving to Yale University, where she stayed for about a year. From Yale Machamer went to the faculty of Johns Hopkins University, where she remains today. She enjoys teaching in the medical school and directing the journal club, and of course she loves being in the lab. Her current research involves sphingolipids and compartmentalization in the Golgi.

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