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Craig Thompson: The method to cancer's madness

The Journal of Cell Biology
The Rockefeller University Press
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1083/jcb.1914pi
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JCB1914pi.indd People & Ideas JCB • VOLUME 191 • NUMBER 4 • 2010696 C ancer cells proliferate with aban- don and in defi ance of the restric- tions usually placed on dividing cells. How do cancer cells—or normal dividing cells, for that matter—fuel ram- pant growth? That’s a question Craig Thompson is bent on answering. Thompson trained in research while serving as an MD in the US Navy (1). Though he never went to sea, he has made waves throughout his career—fi rst as an immunologist with his work on the T cell– specifi c signaling receptor CD28 (2, 3), then with his lab’s efforts to characterize the mechanisms by which Bcl-2 family members regulate apoptosis (3, 4), and now in the fi eld of cancer biology investigating the metabolic requirements of dividing cells (5, 6). Along the way, Thompson has taken the helm of research institutes at the Uni- versity of Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania, and is now transitioning to president and CEO at Memorial Sloan- Kettering Cancer Center in New York. We caught him fresh off the train from a visit to his lab’s future site to talk about the currents he’s followed in his career. ON THE BASE What did you want to be when you were a kid? I never really thought about it. My father was a career Coast Guard offi cer, which meant I grew up all over the country. One thing you do when you’re a military brat is that every time you move, you have to make new friends and integrate yourself into the community. My way to do that was to play sports. What sports did you play? I played soccer and basketball in high school. I was able to go to college because I was re- cruited to play sports. Some schools recruit- ed me to play soccer, but I went to Dartmouth to join their whitewater kayaking team. I got my varsity letter in whitewater kayaking, and I tried out for both the national and Olympic teams, but I didn’t make either. What did you study in college? During school I took science courses. They were th

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