Robert C. Bast, Jr. MD, Oral History Interview, December 18, 2014
Major Topics Covered:
- Translational Research: thought processes and working strategies
- Strengthening MD Anderson’s research programs, especially translational research
- The Office of Translational Research and its impact on science at MD Anderson.
- The Moon Shots Program
- Training requirements for physician-scientists
- Challenges of financing multi-disciplinary research
Chapter 17: The Multi-disciplinary Research Program
Chapter 18: As Head of the Division of Cancer Medicine: Building MD Anderson's Academic Programs and Research Focus
Chapter 19: The Culture of Research at MD Anderson
Chapter 20: Accomplishments as Division Head and Observations about Leadership and Mentoring
Chapter 21: John Mendelsohn and Ronald DePinho
Chapter 22: The Moon Shots Program and Its Impact
Chapter 23: Writing a Guidebook on Translational Research
Chapter 24: Establishing a Habit of Translational Thinking
Chapter 25: Photography, Basketball, and Advisor to the V Foundation for Cancer Research
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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
History of Science, Technology, and Medicine | Oncology | Oral History
Bast, Robert C. Jr., MD and Rosolowski, Tacey A. PhD, "Robert C. Bast, Jr. MD, Oral History Interview, December 18, 2014" (2014). Interview Sessions. 74.
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About the Interview
About the Interview Subject:
Dr. Bast came to MD Anderson in 1994 to head the Division of Cancer Medicine, at which time he also joined the faculty as Internist and Professor of Medicine in the Department of Experimental Therapeutics. Dr. Bast was Division head until the year 2000, when he became Vice President for the Office of Translational Research, a position he occupies today. Dr. Bast’s research has focused on ovarian and breast cancer. He has made advances in identifying biomarkers for early detection, drug sensitivities, monoclonal antibodies, the CA125 biomarker, and the significance of the ARHI tumor suppressor gene. Very early in his career he developed a translational approach and he has been instrumental in developing the capacity of institutions to support and promote translational research.
ORIGINAL Interview Profile # 55: Robert C. Bast, MD
Submitted by: Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D.
This three-session interview with Robert C. Bast, MD takes place in summer and early winter of 2014. (Total duration, approximately 4 hours and 50 minutes.) Dr. Bast’s research has focused on ovarian cancer: for example, he is known for establishing that the protein CA-125 can be used to screen for the disease. Very early in his career he developed a translational approach and he has been instrumental in developing the capacity of institutions to support and promote translational research. Dr. Bast came to MD Anderson in 1994 to head the Division of Cancer Medicine, at which time he also joined the faculty as Internist and Professor of Medicine in the Department of Experimental Therapeutics. Dr. Bast was Division head until the year 2000, when he became Vice President for the Office of Translational Research, a position he occupies today. The interview sessions take place in Dr. Bast’s office in the Office of Translational Research in Pickens Academic Tower on the Main Campus of MD Anderson. Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D. is the interviewer.
Dr. Bast attended Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, receiving his BA in Biology in 1965. He then went to Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, where he received his MD in 1971. From 1971 to 1972 he was a Medical Intern at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. From 1972 to 1975 he held a position as a Research Associate in the Biology Branch of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland. From 1974 to 1975 he served as Research Scientist at this institution. From 1975 to 1976 he returned to Boston for a Clinical Fellowship in Medicine at the Harvard Medical School. During this same period he was also an Assistant Resident Physician at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston. From 1976 to 1977 Dr. Bast held a Fellowship in Medical Oncology, Sidney Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. He joined the faculty of Harvard Medical School as an Assistant Professor in 1977, advancing to Associate Professor in 1983. In 1984 Dr. Bast was recruited to Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, where he co-directed the Division of Hematology-Oncology. He also served as Director of Clinical Research Programs at the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center from 1984 to 1987. In 1987 Dr. Bast became Director of the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center. He was recruited to Head the Division of Cancer Medicine at MD Anderson in 1994.
In this interview, Dr. Bast sketches the path of his research and his impact on MD Anderson through his administrative roles. He discusses his areas of research: the early detection and prevention of ovarian cancer; studies of cell growth regulation (ovarian and breast carcinomas); research into imprinted tumor suppressor genes; the manipulation of cancer autophagy and tumor dormancy; and research into the modulation of taxane sensitivity. During these discussions, Dr. Bast provides insight into the thought processes and working strategies of translational researchers. He adds depth to this discussion when he talks about his work as Head of the Department of Internal Medicine: his main mission was to strengthen MD Anderson’s research programs and commitment to translational research. He also speaks in depth about the mission of the Office of Translational Research and its impact on the shape of science at MD Anderson. In the process he talks about Dr. Ronal DePinho’s Moon Shots Program, sketches the special training requirements for physician-scientists, and provides insight into the struggles of financing multi-disciplinary research.