Peter R. Arvan begins the interview discussing his childhood in Queens, New York. Arvan’s family background played an important role in his development, including his mother’s escape from Nazi Germany as a teenager. Although his parents were extremely interested in his education, there never existed any particular emphasis on science; his movement into a scientific career could have been altered had he found any inspiration or an inspirational figure in the humanities instead. Arvan’s decision to pursue science developed from his involvement in the National Science Foundation Summer Program in Biochemistry before his senior year in high school. Arvan returned to this program as an advanced student the following summer and even as an instructor while he was an undergraduate; this program was extremely influential in his academic development. Arvan joined Efraim Racker’s laboratory at Cornell University and then pursued his MD/PhD at Yale University working in the research laboratory of J. David Castle. After one year at the University of North Carolina for residency, Arvan returned to Yale under the Research Residency Program where he pursued research in Howard Rasmussen’s laboratory. Throughout the interview Arvan discussed the difficulties of scientific funding, the fortuitous events which have shaped his scientific thinking, and the difficulties inherent in the MD/PhD program.
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