Oral history interview with Jason D. Weber
- 2008-Oct-07 – 2008-Oct-08
Jason D. Weber grew up in Edwardsville, Illinois, one of two children. His father was an internist; his mother a teacher. As a youngster he liked to read, especially science fiction, to hang around with friends, and to play soccer. He was always interested in science. Weber entered Bradley University to study biotechnology, a new field that was to become what is now called molecular biology. He discontinued his soccer playing after the first year so that he could concentrate on his studies. In his second year he entered the lab of Samuel Fan, who Weber says was his greatest influence. A radiation biology class led him into the study of cancer and tumor suppression. He also met his future wife while an undergraduate. He loved working in the lab and knew he wanted to do that for his career. Before entering graduate school he spent a year and a half at Monsanto, working on Celebrex in Peter Isakson's lab. For his PhD he went into St. Louis University's cell and molecular biology program, where Joseph Baldassare became his mentor, working on the cell cycle and publishing five papers in addition to his thesis. At a meeting at Cold Spring Harbor Weber met Charles Sherr and decided he wanted to go to Sherr's lab at St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. There he worked on ARF. His work got him onto the cover of the first issue of Nature Cell Biology. Weber began looking for a job, hoping to stay in the Midwest. He accepted an assistant professorship at Washington University in St. Louis's new molecular oncology program, where he is now an associate professor. At the end of the interview he describes his own start-up package; his style of lab management; his postdocs and students; his publications and grants; the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences award's timeliness; the Pew meetings; patents; his responsibilities at the university; and science education. He analogizes science to the farm-team system in baseball. He talks a little about his family and how he balances his life with them with his work life. Weber concludes the interview with an explanation of plans for his future work and a commentary on science and scientists in other countries, particularly China and Japan, versus those in the United States.
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