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Oral history interview with Anirvan Ghosh

  • 2004-Feb-02 – 2002-Feb-03
Photograph of Anirvan Ghosh

Anirvan Ghosh was in born in Bloomington, Indiana—Ghosh's parents were graduate students there—the older of two children. After a brief time at Rice University in Houston, Texas, Ghosh's family moved to Kanpur, India, where Ghosh grew up. His father was a chemistry professor; his mother taught at local schools and colleges until she received a faculty position teaching comparative literature. Ghosh lived his life in an academic setting, being heavily influenced by the work of his parents and their interest in traveling and showing their children various sites. He stayed in the Indian educational system (which he describes in detail) until he was seventeen years of age at which point he matriculated at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). While transitioning into the American educational system, Ghosh undertook undergraduate research projects in the laboratories of Jack Beacham, Thomas Tombrello, and Jerome Pine. In addition, he was afforded the opportunity to work in Thomas S. Reese's lab at Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory, a place at which he had a "defining" moment during a neurobiology course. Ghosh decided to pursue a graduate education and was torn between attending Stanford University or Harvard University, ultimately choosing the former. At Stanford, he studied under Carla J. Shatz researching brain-cell development After hearing a talk from Michael E. Greenberg at a Gordon Conference, Ghosh became interested in doing his postdoctoral research with Greenberg at Harvard Medical School in the field of molecular neurobiology, focusing on experiential cortical development in the brain. Although neither he nor his wife had ever lived on the East Coast, they decided to move there with their son given the density of universities and potential job opportunities. Upon finishing his postdoctoral research, Ghosh accepted a position at Johns Hopkins University, though soon after decided to move on to a position at the University of California, San Diego. The interview concludes with Ghosh recounting the establishment of his Hopkins laboratory, his transition to San Diego, and his current and future research goals. In addition, Ghosh reflects upon patents; the privatization of scientific research; competition and collaboration in science; the national scientific agenda; underrepresented groups in science; the source of his ideas; and last, but certainly not least, the impact of the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences grant on his work.

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