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Oral history interview with David D. Ginty

  • 2003-Sep-02 – 2003-Sep-04

David D. Ginty was born in Danbury, Connecticut, but grew up in Fairfield, Connecticut; he has an older brother and a younger sister, and all three are adopted. Ginty's father worked in insurance, eventually becoming the head of the malpractice division for the state of Connecticut. His mother began as an elementary school teacher but eventually founded her own nursery school, which flourished. Their extended families were large and close, for which David still feels extremely fortunate. He loved school, especially mathematics and science, and he did well until high school. Then he took advantage of his parents' "laissez-faire" attitude toward their sons and hived off with his brother instead of going to school. He did, however, play football and jai alai in high school. His parents were devout Roman Catholics, and religion was an important part of Ginty's childhood. Religion was also an important factor in his mother's urging Ginty to attend Mount St. Mary's; she wanted him to become more disciplined and more religious. There he majored in biology, which was the strongest of the science departments. Because it was a small college it offered very little lab experience, but Ginty was able to work for Dr. Thomas, who worked on the synthesis of porphyrin rings; because Dr. Thomas loved his work, he inspired Ginty. Dr. Gauthier offered a course in physiology that Ginty also found exciting. Furthermore, Ginty met his future wife at Mount St. Mary's. In spring of his senior year of college, Ginty realized that he needed to decide what he would do next. He was offered a job at National Institutes of Health, but a friend's mother urged him to obtain a PhD He applied to graduate schools very late but was accepted at East Carolina University. There he found a small program, with close relations between faculty and students; also, this program was new and required students to have a broad foundation in the sciences, so Ginty took many other courses. He had five rotations, all of which he loved, but he went to work in Edward Seidel's lab to study nerve growth factor signaling. Ginty's interest in the nervous system led him to a postdoc at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, where he worked in John Wagner's lab on growth factor signal transduction in the neuron. When Wagner moved to Cornell University he wanted Ginty to go with him, but Ginty decided to stay at Dana-Farber, and he went to Michael Greenberg's lab, studying phosphoantibodies. After three years there he accepted an assistant professorship at Johns Hopkins University, where he is now an associate professor. He continues to work on nerve growth factor and retrograde signaling; to teach; to publish; to write grant proposals; and to balance his work with his family life.

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