Oral history interview with Ralph C. Budd

  • 1994-Oct-16 – 1994-Oct-18

Ralph C. Budd grew up in Middletown, New York, in a close and happy family that included his parents and an older brother. He attended public schools, where he had good teachers who fostered his early interest and ability in science and mathematics. He attended MIT for his freshman year of college, but found it too intense; he transferred to Cornell University, which he very much preferred for academic reasons and because it is in a rural setting. There he continued studying the organ and sang in the University choir, where he met his future wife, Lenore Fritz. While Lenore was still an undergraduate Budd began medical school at Cornell University Medical School in New York City; they married and lived the commuter life for the remaining two years. During his residency at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Budd decided to specialize in rheumatology because it offered insight into many diseases and failings of the human body. He then began postdoctoral work in Kendall A. Smith’s lab at Dartmouth College, where he found his medical practice and his research influencing each other, a pattern he continues to maintain. He went to Lausanne, Switzerland, to study T lymphocyte development in lymphoproliferative mice at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. He returned to Stanford University to study immunology in C. Garrison Fathman’s lab. He was heavily courted by Genentech and worked there for a year, until market forces forced cutbacks. From the West Coast he went to University of Vermont, where he continues to teach, mentor, review articles and papers, and do research. He believes that basic science is crucial, that attempting to direct results is counterproductive; but he is very interested in potential therapeutic applications of his research; viz. his research into lpr mice might provide help for lupus sufferers; and he thinks that fas gene studies have potential for sufferers of autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. He and Lenore have a son, Graham, who is ten years old; and a daughter, Laura, who is five years old. The family likes to engage in various outdoor activities and sports. Budd enjoys wine and espresso; he loves classical music, and plays the organ when he can find time.

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