Biophysical Society Newsletter | June 2017
BIOPHYSICAL SOCIETY NEWSLETTER
trouble, he would chastise me and insist that I should be able to teach anyone whatever I learned.” Following completion of her PhD studies, she worked in the lab of Konrad Bloch at Harvard Uni- versity as a postdoctoral fellow. Her work focused on the role of a supernatant protein factor in the regulation of lipid metabolism and was supported by an American Heart Association postdoctoral fellowship and then by an F32 grant from NIH. “During my training, lipids were considered messy and to be avoided but they are so important and necessary for membrane structure, integrity, activ- ity and function of membrane proteins. Lipids were not a ‘hot’ area then, but I persisted and learned as much as I could,” she says. Chin had trouble finding an academic position focused on lipids in the New England area fol- lowing her postdoc. In addition to running his lab at Harvard, Bloch was a consultant with a small biotechnology company in Cambridge and suggested that she consider working in the biotech industry, which she did. “I was hired to manipu- late yeast metabolism for desired products. The biotech world was very different but I learned a lot about the different kinds of benefits and challenges faced,” she explains. “Later, this experience would help me appreciate what small businesses faced when applying for SBIR and STTR grants to sup- port their research. ” She then accepted a position as an instructor at Harvard Medical School in pathology and at the Center for Blood Research and focused on char- acterizing a protease inhibitor. Not long after she began working there, her husband, Don Schnei- der , moved from Dartmouth Medical School to the Center for Scientific Review at NIH. For the previous ten years, they had maintained a long- distance marriage between Boston and Hanover, New Hampshire, and Schneider hoped that she would join him in moving to Bethesda. “After much thought, I applied for and accepted a posi- tion as a Senior Staff Fellow at NIH and NICHD with Rick Klausner ,” she says. “There I focused on characterizing the relationship between iron sulfur clusters and regulation of RNA motifs.”
Although she enjoyed the research, af- ter a while she felt that it was time to move on, and applied for a Program Director position at NIGMS. The po- sition allowed her to return to her first and constant research passion, mem- branes and membrane proteins. In 1994, she began with a small portfolio of about 60 grants, and by the time of her retirement this year, she had built up the program to around 250 grants focused on structure, function, and dynamics of lipids, membranes, and membrane proteins.
This work was very rewarding for her, as she saw the growth and develop- ment of the membrane protein field and the success of applicants, grantees, and their trainees in her and other port- folios. She is extremely excited about the amazing approaches, tools, and reagents developed over the past 20 years to study the membrane proteins. After working with this community for 23 years, Chin will especially miss talking with the investigators. She advises grant applicants: “Ask important questions you really want to answer, even if they are challenging and might take a long time to ad- dress. Prepare and submit only when you and your project are ready; don’t be a shotgun applicant. The goal is not to submit as many applications as possible but to submit your best application and to focus on your important biologically driven questions.” Now that she is retired, Chin plans on playing the piano again, taking more photos, volunteer- ing, tutoring, and perhaps consulting. First and foremost, she looks forward to spending more time with her husband on their tandem bicycle. “We tried riding single bicycles together, but he is a strong rider and was always waiting for me to catch up,” she says. “Since buying our first tandem in 1994, we’ve traveled all over the United States and abroad with our tandem. One reason to retire this year was that I signed us up for more trips than normal, so I didn’t have enough vacation days.”
Chin and her husband on Bike to Work Day.
Profilee-at-a-Glance Institution NIH, Retired
Area of Research Structure, function, regulation, and
dynamics of membranes and membrane proteins.
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