Thursday, February 11, 2010

"Here is my office. I bequeath it to you"

Yesterday's oral history interview with E. Alan Meyer, Ph.D., was a great success filled with laughter, fascinating stories, and great information about the history of the OHSU department now called Molecular Microbiology and Immunology.

Dr. Meyer, being something of an overachiever, typed up some answers to the roster of potential questions in advance--which will come in very handy for future researchers since it didn't all get covered on tape. He also brought along a history of the department that he had written up circa 1991--another great addition to the collections.

Interviewer Dr. Lesley Hallick led Meyer through his early years, his education at Berkeley, further work at Purdue and Johns Hopkins, and on to Oregon where he has spent the last 52 years. The full transcript will be forthcoming, but in the meantime, I'll share a few of my favorite tidbits:

On meeting Barbara, his wife of 60 years, Meyer described the scene in the lab when she came over and said "Can I borrow your burette?" Hallick declaring "What a line!", Meyer noted that Barbara was forward, right from the beginning.

Asked how researchers protected themselves from the botulinum toxin in the laboratory of Carl Lamanna at Hopkins, Meyer replied: "They were told to be very careful." And then proceeded to recount the story of a fellow graduate student who accidentally splashed himself with toxin.

And on coming to Oregon, where his uncle Harry Sears, Ph.D., had just retired as chair of the Dept. of Bacteriology: Proudly showing off his office to his nephew, Sears magnanimously said "Here is my office. I bequeath it to you." If only OHSU space assignments were still so easy to come by...

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