Ralph B. Arlinghaus, PhD, Oral History Interview, April 02, 2014

Title

Ralph B. Arlinghaus, PhD, Oral History Interview, April 02, 2014

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Description

Major topics covered:

  • Research areas, detailed discussions of progressive experimentation
  • Research creativity, innovation, collaborations
  • View of MD Anderson presidents and other leaders

Identifier

ArlinghausR_02_20140412

Publication Date

4-2-2014

Publisher

The Historical Resources Center, The Research Medical Library, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

City

Houston, Texas

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Topics Covered

University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, University of Texas System. M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, M.D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute at Houston, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, M.D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute

Disciplines

History of Science, Technology, and Medicine | Oncology | Oral History

About the Interview

About the Interview Subject:

Molecular pathologist Ralph B. Arlinghaus (b. 16 August 1935, Newport, Kentucky)

came to MD Anderson 1969 to serve as Chief of the Section of Environmental Biology in the Department of Biology. Today he is a professor in the Department of Translational Molecular Pathology in the Division of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. Dr. Arlinghaus has made several key discoveries unraveling the genetic and molecular mechanisms of proteins that support and maintain leukemia (lipocalin 24p3, pathways of the BCR-ABL protein, the Janus kinase 2). In 1986 he was tasked with establishing the new Department of Molecular Pathology, and built a small but strong department of faculty with independent laboratories and funding. He stepped down from that role in 2012. In 2016 he was elected to the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

In this interview, Dr. Arlinghaus talks at length about his research discoveries, often going into technical detail about genetic and molecular processes. He not only demonstrates the complexities of the research questions he takes on, but in the process also shows the creative approach to research that he feels has characterized his career and his mark on the field. He talks about his humble beginnings and career challenges and discusses the death of his young wife from chronic myeloid leukemia, a key event that focused him on the mission of curing that disease. He sketches his role in building the Department of Molecular Pathology and comments on tensions in MD Anderson that influenced his career at the institution

Original Interview Profile

Date: 4/8/2014

This interview with molecular pathologist Ralph B. Arlinghaus (b. 16 August 1935, Newport, Kentucky) takes place in two sessions during spring of 2014 (approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes total duration).

Dr. Arlinghaus came to MD Anderson 1969 to serve as Chief of the Section of Environmental Biology. Dr. Arlinghaus spent some time away from MD Anderson (1983 -1986), returning in 1986 to serve as Chair of the new Department of Molecular Pathology. Today he is a professor in the Department of Translational Molecular Pathology in the Division of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. He holds Hubert L. Stringer Chair in Cancer Research. The interview takes place in the Dr. Arlinghaus’ office in the Life Sciences Building on Holcombe Boulevard, just west of the main campus of MD Anderson. Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D. is the interviewer.

Dr. Arlinghaus received his Bachelors’ in Pharmacy at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Pharmacy in Cincinnati, Ohio (1957) and continued in the Graduate School of Arts to receive his Master’s in Pharmaceutical Chemistry (1959). He received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the

University of Cincinnati’s College of Medicine in 1961 and stayed at the institution for his Clinical and Research Fellowships (1/1959-1/1959 and 1/1960-1/1961, respectively). Dr. Arlinghaus then received two Research Fellowships to support his work at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Lexington (1/1962-1/1963 and 1/1964-1/1965). He next took a position as a research biochemist at the Plum Island Animal Disease Laboratory, Greenport, NY (1965 – 1969), at which point a family tragedy compelled him to redirect his career, and he took a position as a biochemist at MD Anderson with the intent of focusing on chronic myeloid leukemia. In 1986 he was tasked with establishing the new Department of Molecular Pathology, and built a small but strong department of faculty with independent laboratories and funding. He stepped down from that role in 2012. Over the course of his career, Dr. Arlinghaus has made several key discoveries unraveling the genetic and molecular complexities of proteins that support and maintain leukemia. In 2005, for example, he discovered that leukemia cells induce healthy cells to secrete lipocalin 24p3, killing other healthy cells in order to make room for tumor growth; he thereby overturned the commonly held idea that leukemia merely crowds out normal cells. His work on the pathways of the BCR-ABL protein has identified markers for leukemia; based on his work on the Janus kinase 2, Dr. Arlinghaus has been able to propose improvements to leukemia treatment, and these are now in clinical trials.

In this interview, Dr. Arlinghaus talks at length about his research discoveries, often going into technical detail about genetic and molecular processes. He not only demonstrates the complexities of the research questions he takes on, but in the process also shows the creative approach to research that he feels has characterized his career and his mark on the field. He talks about his humble beginnings and career challenges and discusses the death of his young wife from chronic myeloid leukemia, a key event that focused him on the mission of curing that disease. He sketches his role in building the Department of Molecular Pathology and comments on tensions in MD Anderson that influenced his career at the institution.

Ralph B. Arlinghaus, PhD, Oral History Interview, April 02, 2014

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