Digital Collections

Oral history interview with Jeffery D. Molkentin

  • 2004-Mar-15 – 2004-Mar-16

Jeffery D. Molkentin was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the elder of two brothers. Molkentin's mother worked at Briggs & Stratton; his maternal grandfather and his stepfather (from whom he has his surname) played significant roles in his life. Molkentin had, according to his own account, a fairly typical childhood in Milwaukee. It was not until his freshman year of high school that he became very interested in his own education; it was then that he began to excel scholastically. Upon graduation Molkentin chose to attend Marquette University, where his interest in medicine led him down the pre-medical path, ultimately to the University of Wisconsin Medical School. While in medical school, though, he came to realize that the realities of being a doctor did not appeal to him, but that the science of medicine and scientific practice did. As a result, he entered the laboratory of Lee Ann Baxter Lowe at the Blood Center of Southeastern Wisconsin, and completed his doctoral degree with Bruce E. Markham at the Medical College of Wisconsin, where his research focused on transcriptional regulation of the alpha-myosin heavy chain gene in heart muscle. From there he moved on to a postdoctoral fellowship to study transcription mechanisms in myogenesis with Eric Olson at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. At the end of the interview Molkentin discusses his family and his attempts to balance his family with his career, especially with regard to accepting a position at the University of Cincinnati. There, he has pursued research in developmental biology on the molecular genetic events in heart and skeletal muscle growth. He discusses his goals for his laboratory, as well as his future research on the heart and heart disease. Additionally, he relates his thoughts on broad topics such as research collaborations between academia and industry, the impact of technology on research, creativity in science, and privatization of research, among other topics. Molkentin also talks about his laboratory in depth, including his management style, his criteria for prioritizing his research projects, and the gender make up of his lab. He concludes his interview by discussing the impact of the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences award on his work, and other aspects of being a principal investigator.

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