Researcher at Heart
Sitting Down With… Charles Clevenger, Professor and Chair of Pathology at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, Richmond, Virginia, USA
Michael Schubert | | Interview
What prompted your interest in medicine?
It started when I was in high school. I became broadly interested in research and, as that evolved, I realized that what really excited me was human research with a translational angle. I’ve been involved in research ever since I was 16 years old.
I chose pathology because it seemed like the best marriage of research and the clinic. As I finished my residency and fellowship, I found myself gravitating toward breast cancer research. At the time, I ran a DNA flow cytometry lab that principally worked on breast cancer, and my research postdoc focused on prolactin and the immune system. I told my mentor I wanted to port that research into the breast, so I could have congruence between my research and my clinical practice – and he consented.
What has been the most unexpected moment of your career?
I would say there have been two.
One is our discovery that both prolactin and its receptor can enter – and function in – the nucleus. The notion that peptide hormones could enter the nucleus was heretical at the time. People thought steroid hormones worked in the nucleus and peptide hormones worked at the cell surface – and ne’er the twain shall meet. Now, of course, we know that’s not true.
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