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0:00 - Segment 00A: Interview Identifier

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Partial Transcript: "We are recording now, and I’ll just record the identifier. I’m Tacey Anne Rosolowski interviewing Dr. Kripke for the “Making Cancer History Voices” oral history project run by the Historical Resources Center at MD Anderson. Dr. Kripke is a photoimmunologist who joined MD Anderson in 1983. In addition to her research, she held many important administrative positions, including that of Executive Vice President for Research and Academic Affairs, the position she held when she retired in 2007. And do I have that date right of your retirement?"

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1:42 - Segment 01: Photo-Immunology: Creating a New Field out of an Observation

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Partial Transcript: "And you joined MD Anderson in 1983 and I will want to—after we speak about this subject—go back and talk about your research area but I wanted—you talked a lot about the process that brought you to MD Anderson in 1983 from NCI-Frederick, but I wanted to get your impressions of the institution when you arrived. You said that you had heard about MD Anderson from being at conferences with colleagues, but what were your impressions when you joined the institution? What was its environment and culture like?"

Segment Synopsis: Dr. Kripke begins this segment with some comments about joining MD Anderson in 1983, noting differences between the hospital environment and the research contexts she was accustomed to. She notes that professionals came to MD Anderson for many reasons, but stay because of the mission to cure cancer, a mission that “permeates the activities of the institution.” She then traces how her own research on photoimmunology evolved, beginning with an observation she made in her dissertation (on immune surveillance) that “it would important to investigate the immunology of animals exposed to ultraviolet light.” She had the opportunity for exactly this study from 1972 – 1975, when she went to the Department of Pathology at the University of Utah’s College of Medicine in Salt Lake City to look at the role of immuno-suppressive drugs in animals, including those exposed to UV light. It was “tailor-made for her interests and background.” She describes the effects of UV light on the skin and the cancers induced, noting that no one else was doing similar work at the time and that her findings went against common assumptions about the progress of cancer. She presented her results at the Society for Photobiology, and “the results were so black and white, it was hard to argue with them,” and other scientists were very interested. She describes the early days of understanding that the skin is an “immunological organ.”

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Subjects: 1. Segment Code - A: The Researcher 2. Story Codes - A: Joining MD Anderson A: Career and Accomplishments A: Definitions, Explanations, Translations A: Inspirations to Practice Science/Medicine A: Overview A: Professional Path A: The Researcher B: Institutional Mission and Values B: MD Anderson Culture C: Discovery and Success D: Understanding Cancer, the History of Science, Cancer Research

17:36 - Segment 02: Administrative and Leadership Experience

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Partial Transcript: "Fascinating. What happened after you left the Department of Pathology at Salt Lake City and went to NCI-Frederick? And the years you spent there were 1975 to 1983. Why did you—well, I think you already covered why you made the move in your previous interviews, so maybe we could focus on exactly kind of what you were doing when you were there."

Segment Synopsis: In this segment, Dr. Kripke describes her work at the National Cancer Institute in Frederick, Maryland (1975 –1983), including her administrative experience. She set up a laboratory from scratch and eventually became head of the Immunobiology Physical and Chemical Carcinogenesis Section in the Cancer Biology Program at the NCI-Frederick Cancer Research Facility. To streamline the discussion about the development of her research path during this time, Dr. Kripke provides the manuscript of a lecture she gave on the progress of her research. She notes that the period at the NCI broadened her outlook on biology, as it was devoted exclusively to doing science and exposed her to scientists from diverse fields. She also speaks about the administrative skills she acquired (how to manage people; how to run a scientific meeting), in addition to raising her own professional profile in the field. This period, she notes, stimulated her interest in the issues of leadership –this would continue with her increasingly significant administrative roles at MD Anderson.

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Subjects: 1. Segment Code - A: Professional Path 2. Story Codes - A: The Leader A: Experiences re: Gender, Race, Ethnicity A: Professional Path C: Discovery and Success D: On Leadership

26:29 - Segment 03: Coming to MD Anderson: First Woman Chair; Setting Up a Laboratory, Leading a Department; Clinical Applications of Research

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Partial Transcript: "Do you want to move now to MD Anderson and talk a bit? "

Segment Synopsis: In this segment, Dr. Kripke covers her arrival at MD Anderson (Hospital and Tumor Institute) in 1983 to establish a new Department of Immunology. She addresses gender issues very forthrightly: she is very proud of the fact that she was 39 when she came to MD Anderson as a department chair; the first woman chair of a department and the first women who was a tenured full professor in a research department. She recalls speaking with Dr. Charles LeMaistre about her two concerns: being a Ph.D. in a clinical, medical environment and being a woman in an environment that was much more male-oriented than NCI-Frederick. She tells anecdotes to flesh out the latter view. She offers examples of the practical challenges she faced while setting up a scientific research laboratory in an environment that is designed for clinical activity (noting that “starting a laboratory is like starting a small business”). She makes additional comments on the persistence of challenges to women, though she notes that the Vice President of Research, Frederick Becker, was a “true champion of women in the institution,” who made sure she had opportunities to progress. (She notes that new basic science departments were being created in the 80s, and in fact the Department of Immunology was “a little late in coming” to MD Anderson.) She talks about being pleasantly surprised that she enjoyed teaching and then outlines the goals she had as Chair of the Department. (She also talks about building a program that would integrate immunology into other cancer approaches housed in Research Building 1 on the South Campus.)

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Subjects: 1. Segment Code - A: View on Career and Accomplishments 2. Story Codes - A: Career and Accomplishments A: Career and Accomplishments A: Experiences re: Gender, Race, Ethnicity A: Joining MD Anderson A: The Leader A: The Researcher B: Gender, Race, Ethnicity, Religion B: MD Anderson History B: MD Anderson Snapshot C: Portrait

50:11 - Segment 04: Research Advances and the Excitement of Scientific Discovery

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Partial Transcript: "Okay, because I was wondering did you ever work on any or collaborate on any projects that had direct human applications, or were you always, in your words, a mouse doctor?"

Segment Synopsis: In this segment, Dr. Kripke expands on her research career. She talks about her collaborations with doctors who translated her research into clinical applications. She gives an example of research with liposomes (“fat capsules”) to deliver an enzyme to repair DNA damage caused by ultraviolet light: these liposomes worked and also prevented further damage (though have not been translated into therapy for humans). She emphasizes that photoimmunology continues to tease apart the mechanisms that connect UV light to skin cancers. In response to a question about the mental dimensions of the research process, Dr. Kripke explains that interpreting data is like solving a crossword puzzle, but the “exciting part is designing the right experiment,” and “the feeling that you know something or know how to do something that no one else knows. The rest is just doing the work.” She describes some of these moments she has experienced in her research career. She acknowledges her many collaborations with her husband, Dr. Isaiah Joshua Fidler (“all of our papers together were the result of an argument”) and characterizes the role he has had on her career as an advisor about the processes and politics of science. She says that her daughter (Katherine Kripke) “grew up speaking metastasis and immunology.” She also notes that she read Dr. Fidler’s papers, that they improved each other’s scientific output. (She notes that her own administrative roles have created awkward situations for both of them.)

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Subjects: 1. Segment Code -A: The Researcher 2. Story Codes - A: The Researcher A: Career and Accomplishments A: Character, Values, Beliefs, Talents A: Definitions, Explanations, Translations A: Influences from People and Life Experiences A: Overview A: Personal Background B: Multi-disciplinary Approaches C: Collaborations C: Discovery and Success C: Discovery, Creativity and Innovation C: Research, Care, and Education C: The Professional at Work D: On Research and Researchers

68:54 - Segment 05: Moving into Administration: a Path from Department Chair to Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs

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Partial Transcript: "Would you like to shift gears a bit and talk about administrative roles?"

Segment Synopsis: In this segment, Dr. Kripke talks about her shift from research to administration and her “learning curve” as she grappled with leadership. She talks about her (exclusively) mentors in leadership and also her participation in a program for women in academic medicine, ELAM, the Executive Leadership in Medicine Program in 1996-1997. (She was the only appointee from Texas that year.) She describes being interested in “the science of administration.” She details the lessons she learned during this “phenomenally exciting time” that allowed her to reflect on where she wanted to go with her career. She explains her decision to leave her research career, resulting in her 1998 appointment as Vice President for Academic Programs (promoted to Senior Vice President in 1999 and to Executive Vice President in 2001). She outlines the principles on which she bases leadership and discusses institutional and cultural changes that evolved after 1996, when Dr. Mendelsohn became president, including a new openness compared to the secrecy of previous administrations. She describes how she tried to implement one of her goals as VP for Academic Programs --to “level the playing field” for researchers. She talks about her working relationship with Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach, whom Dr. Mendelsohn appointed to Senior VP of Academic Programs. She describes the scope of her role as Executive Vice President, emphasizing that she had to become familiar with the clinical side of research, “a completely different culture.”

Keywords:

Subjects: 1. Segment Code - A: The Administrator 2. Story Codes - A: The Administrator A: Experiences re: Gender, Race, Ethnicity B: Institutional Mission and Values B: MD Anderson Culture C: Leadership C: Mentoring C: The Professional at Work C: Understanding the Institution D: On Leadership

0:00

ROSOLOWSKI:

We are recording now, and I'll just record the identifier. I'm Tacey Anne Rosolowski interviewing Dr. Kripke for the "Making Cancer History Voices" oral history project run by the Historical Resources Center at MD Anderson. Dr. Kripke is a photoimmunologist who joined MD Anderson in 1983. In addition to her research, she held many important administrative positions, including that of Executive Vice President for Research and Academic Affairs, the position she held when she retired in 2007. And do I have that date right of your retirement?

KRIPKE:

I believe so.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Okay. She is currently Professor of Immunology and Vivian L. Smith Chair Emeritus at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. She is also chair of the Mayor's Advisory Council on Health and Environment for the city of Houston. This interview is taking place in a conference room in the Residential Tower where Dr. Kripke lives in Houston. This is our first interview session, 1:00and today is March 28, 2012. The time is 2:15, and thank you for devoting your time to this interview. And as I mentioned to you earlier, since you were interviewed by Lesley Brunet in December of 2007 I have attempted to design an interview that covers new areas. But just for the record, I wanted you to indicate for this interview when you were born and where.

KRIPKE:

I was born in Concord, California, which is near the Bay Area, in July 1943.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Thank you.

ROSOLOWSKI:

And you joined MD Anderson in 1983 and I will want to—after we speak about this subject—go back and talk about your research area but I wanted—you talked a lot about the process that brought you to MD Anderson in 1983 from NCI-Frederick, but I wanted to get your impressions of the institution when you 2:00arrived. You said that you had heard about MD Anderson from being at conferences with colleagues, but what were your impressions when you joined the institution? What was its environment and culture like?

KRIPKE:

Well, it was very different for me because I'd never been in a hospital environment previously. I was in academic institutions, research institutions, but never associated with a hospital, so that part was very different and was a very different experience. People were very formal, much more formal, dressed more formally because they were in an area where patients were treated. However, I was in a building that was remotely located from the hospital, and so we were 3:00relatively isolated there, and so I probably was not as sensitive to the culture of the place and what was happening to the place had I been located right on the main campus.

ROSOLOWSKI:

What was the building you were located in?

KRIPKE:

The RE Bob Smith Research Building.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Did you get a sense from colleagues about what they felt about working at MD Anderson? I'm just asking because a lot of people got a sense—from other people that I've spoken with—they had a sense that there was a real kind of ethos of the MD Anderson professional, and I was wondering if you picked up on that at all, or if that was something that came later, if at all.

KRIPKE:

I think that came later when I became better integrated into the institution, and it became very clear to me after I'd been here for a while that people came to MD Anderson for many reasons. A lot of it had to do with specialized training, opportunities for doing research and so on, but regardless of why they came most of them stayed. Many of them stayed, and they stayed because they fell in love with the mission of the institution, which is very visible, very palpable within the institution, and I think people really became attached to just the spirit of the place.

ROSOLOWSKI:

How would you describe that mission?

KRIPKE:

Well, the mission is to cure cancer, simple. It's very simple, very direct, and it has a lot more verbiage attached to it, but basically the message is that the mission of the institution is to eliminate cancer in Texas, the world, the United States and the world, and it's a mission that permeates the activities of most people in the institution. People want to work at MD Anderson because they feel like they are contributing to the mission.

ROSOLOWSKI:

And that's been a consistent—that mission has been consistent, that ethos has been consistent.

KRIPKE:

Absolutely, yeah.

ROSOLOWSKI:

That's neat.

KRIPKE:

It's very neat, and if you ride up and down the elevators in the hospital you see it. No matter who the person is on the elevator they're seeing if they can help whoever is there, and it's a very compassionate kind of atmosphere.

ROSOLOWSKI:

When did you catch the particular fever of the mission yourself?

KRIPKE:

Well, I think for the first 2 years I was trying to get the laboratory set up and get research going, hire people and so on, and so, again, I think that came after the first few years.

ROSOLOWSKI:

I think what I'll do is I had some questions about some leadership issues, but I think I'll save those for a bit later when we talk about your own administrative experience, and let's talk a bit about your own research path. I wanted to get a picture of how that all evolved from your dissertation, which as I understand was on immune surveillance and cancer, and then you had mentioned at several points that you had made key discoveries at certain points that you felt really made your career path coalesce and take direction. Would you talk a bit about where you believe the real core of your research path began?

KRIPKE:

I was actually asked to look at a position at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. It was in the medical school in the Department of Pathology, which had a strong immunological research component. The chair of the department and some of the faculty members there were very interested in transplantation immunology and immunological research, and they had at the time a project that was looking at the role of immune suppression in cancer, and that comes from the observation that many renal transplant patients have developed cancer at some point in their histories. And so they had a contract to study this in an animal model to look at immunosuppressive drugs and their ability to enhance cancer development in, again, in animals, and one of the carcinogens that was used was ultraviolet light. Another one—there were chemical carcinogens and so on, and so there was an opportunity to look at cancers induced by ultraviolet light, and it happens that when I did a review of the literature as a graduate student while I was doing my dissertation it was apparent that there was something unusual about the immunology of cancers in the skin induced by ultraviolet light from studies of animal models. And so—

ROSOLOWSKI:

What were those unusual properties? KRIPKE:

Well, the dogma of the day was that the longer it took for a cancer to develop the less antigenic it would be, the less capable of being recognized by the immune system it would be, and cancers induced by ultraviolet light took a very, very long time to develop, and yet they seemed to be very highly antigenic, and so I actually wrote a sentence in my dissertation in the literature review that said it would be important to investigate the immunology of animals being exposed to ultraviolet light, some kind of an offhand comment. Well, the job in Salt Lake City clearly offered the opportunity to do that, and because my dissertation had been on immune surveillance and cancer. This was a job that was absolutely tailor-made for my interest and background.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Could I interrupt you just for a second? First of all I wonder if you could just—I forgot to mention earlier that it's going to be a fairly broad audience for these interviews, and so if you could define immune surveillance that would be really helpful. What is immune surveillance?

KRIPKE:

It's the ability of your body's immune system to detect and get rid of foreign substances. Immune surveillance is what allows the body to fight off virus infections, for example.

ROSOLOWSKI:

So it's like the body is always on watch or something.

KRIPKE:

That's correct, and so there's been an idea for a long time that the immune system could be used against cancer because there is some evidence that at least some cancers look like foreign substances to the immune system, and that's called antigenic. They are antigenic, and they are therefore recognized by the immune system as not belonging.

ROSOLOWSKI:

I also wanted to ask you if in addition to the unusual properties that you noticed of UV-induced cancers if there was any other reason why you chose to devote your career to the study of cancer?

KRIPKE:

Because it turned out to be really interesting. It was a matter of following where the science led, and so in addition to the major project that I was responsible for I started working on skin cancers induced by ultraviolet light in a mouse, and the first thing that I discovered was that these skin cancers were very, very highly antigenic. They were perceived as being totally foreign by the immune system, and yet they grew and eventually killed their original host, and so that raised the question if these cancers are so antigenic that they are destroyed by the immune system of an identical twin why would they grow and persist in the original host? How did that happen? And so that was really the basis for the studies and all of what followed subsequently because it turned out that ultraviolet light exposure of the skin has the ability to modify the immune response and in a way that it changes the immune response in a systemic fashion, which was up until then unheard of because ultraviolet light doesn't really penetrate through the skin like an x-ray does. It's very superficial, and so no one believed initially that it could have any lasting systemic consequences.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Was anyone else doing work of this kind?

KRIPKE:

No.

ROSOLOWSKI:

And how was it received when you were first—?

KRIPKE:

People were extremely interested in it, and the model was so striking. The results were so black and white that it was hard to argue with them, and so I think people believed the data, and so the people who were really interested in the results were dermatologists who have to deal with things in the skin and ultraviolet light and all kinds of things dealing with those things and photobiologists who were very interested in what the affects of photons or light rays were on biological processes.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Where was the first place that you presented these results, or was it a paper that you first published?

KRIPKE:

I actually presented the results—it was—I don't remember whether I published first or presented the results. It was very close together, but I first presented the results at a meeting of the American Society for Photobiology, and people walked into the room, I think, very skeptical of the presentation and walked out saying "My, isn't this amazing?" It was a very receptive audience. That's one of the things that I've always loved about that society is that it's very receptive to new ideas, very supportive of young people, young investigators, and I was encouraged to go to that meeting by one of the collaborators on this project that I was working on in Salt Lake City.

ROSOLOWSKI:

And who was that person?

KRIPKE:

A man named John Spikes. He passed away a couple of years ago, but he was a photobiologist, and he was the photobiology consultant for this project that involved ultraviolet light.

ROSOLOWSKI:

What happened next? How did you decide to take these results and further refine your experimental process to take the ideas further?

KRIPKE:

They just really unfolded as the information came in. Since there was nothing known about this phenomenon, you have to make up hypotheses about what's going on and then design experiments to say is it right or is it wrong? Most of the time we were wrong, as it turns out, but we discovered that ultraviolet light changes the immune system, and eventually it happens because ultraviolet light has the ability to interact with immune cells that live in the skin. That wasn't known at the time. It wasn't really realized how much of your immunology, how much of your immune system actually lives in the skin. There are cells that are there that are the first line of defense. There are lymphocytes, white blood cells that circulate in and out of the skin, but the whole idea of how much of skin is an immunological organ was just beginning to be brought to light, and so the work was very, very timely in showing that ultraviolet light had a dramatic effect on the immune system.

ROSOLOWSKI:

How did your work in this field of immunology kind of dovetail, reflect other trends in new understandings about cancer at the time? It seems like the '70s was a period where a lot of new thinking was developing, and I'm wondering what else was going on that may have influenced you or that you may have influenced during that period.

KRIPKE:

I'm not sure how to answer that. I was very focused on my own work and on the work of others that was looking at really medical problems in the skin, not necessarily cancer, so the work was not—it wasn't only related to skin cancers. There are a lot of conditions in the skin that are triggered by ultraviolet light. For example, there are all kinds of odd skin conditions where you get allergic reactions if you go out in the sun or you have to be protected from the sun because you're very sun sensitive, and most of the mechanisms were completely unknown at the time. There was a lot happening in dermatology, and that probably influenced me more than anything that was going on in the cancer field.

ROSOLOWSKI:

What were some of the thought patterns in dermatology that influenced you?

KRIPKE: Well, people were looking at some strange cells in the skin and thinking that they—and the function of which was unknown and then it was discovered that the strange cells in the skin are actually part of the immune system's antigen-presenting mechanism. These are the cells that find foreign substances that accidentally enter the skin, and they are the cells that direct the immune system to make an immune response, and so that was what was being discovered at the time, and then as a corollary to that there were other populations of immune cells that were discovered in the skin, most of which are actually affected by ultraviolet light.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Fascinating. What happened after you left the Department of Pathology at Salt Lake City and went to NCI-Frederick? And the years you spent there were 1975 to 1983. Why did you—well, I think you already covered why you made the move in your previous interviews, so maybe we could focus on exactly kind of what you were doing when you were there.

KRIPKE:

In Frederick?

ROSOLOWSKI:

Yeah.

KRIPKE:

I had the opportunity to run a major research laboratory, research program, and so I was continuing to do the work that I had started in Salt Lake City but with some managerial experience coming along at the same time. It was, again, a matter of breaking new ground in terms of the immunology of the skin. ROSOLOWSKI:

Was there any kind of new arenas of the skin's mechanisms that you were focusing there? I'm trying to get a sense of how did it evolve? How did one discovery lead to the next? Or maybe it didn't follow that kind of pattern.

KRIPKE: Well, it did, but it branched out into a whole lot of different directions at the time.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Would it be relevant to talk about that?

KRIPKE:

I don't think so. I mean, it's very technical. It's fairly technical, and it was a long time ago.

ROSOLOWSKI:

That's a more relevant issue. And sometimes it's just interesting to trace how the thought process went to see how the idea is related, but if you don't feel that it's something we need to trace that's fine. How long—let's see, because you were a scientist grade 4 and head of the Immunobiology Physical and Chemical Carcinogenesis section in the Cancer Bio Program, and what was that shift from you were hired to manage a lab, and then you had more of an administrative role or—?

KRIPKE:

Yes, when I was at Salt Lake City I ran a laboratory, and I had a lot of supervision. There were other people who were the principal investigators on the project that I was running, and when I went to Frederick it was to set up my own laboratory from scratch to hire people, and when I had gone to Salt Lake City I had walked into a situation where most of that already existed. It was a matter of starting a new operation from scratch. I also was in the position to hire people who had PhDs and were already scientists or postdoctoral fellows, and so that was also very different trying to manage and provide research opportunities for people who were trying to establish their own research careers, so it was a very different setting.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Now, of course, later on in the interview it's going to be an important theme of your work for ensuring that women have the opportunities that they need to have in these professional contexts and I'm wondering since you—

KRIPKE:

That came much later.

ROSOLOWSKI:

It did but I'm wondering just what happened—were you aware at NCI-Frederick when you had this setting up a lab role in position to hire and of course fire, did you have any kind of sense of yourself as a woman being in the situation? How did you experience that?

KRIPKE:Well, it was clear from the beginning that there were not a lot of women in the field, and particularly in Salt Lake City the Department of Pathology at that time had only one other woman. It was a very large department, but there was only one other woman faculty member, and so I was very accustomed to being the only woman in the room, and so I just didn't really think much about it. In terms of hiring and so on, I don't think I particularly favored women candidates or worried about them any more than I worried about anybody else. My real involvement in terms of trying to support women came after I got to MD Anderson.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Let's go back to your research focus during the NCI years. What were the kind of landmark discoveries that you felt you made during that period that you—

KRIPKE:

You're asking me to really go back a long way. (laughs) I haven't done science for a long time, for a really long time. I just gave a lecture, a historical lecture on the evolution of the work, which I will be happy to send you a copy of. How's that?

ROSOLOWSKI:

That'll be great. I don't want to put you on the spot with this. Do you want to skip to MD Anderson then? Is there anything else that you'd like to say about your experience at NCI-Frederick in terms of the work situation or experience that you gained from that to bring to MD Anderson?

KRIPKE:

There were a lot of things to be gained in terms of the experience, both scientifically. I was in a program that had quite a diverse group of people in terms of their scientific interests, and so I really broadened my outlook in biology by being in that kind of a context, so it was a terrific, very creative environment and one that was devoted entirely to doing science, so that was the only area that we were required to do, and so that was extremely beneficial. I also learned from the program director a lot of things like how to run a scientific meeting. He thought I should host a scientific meeting on ultraviolet carcinogenesis to get myself better established in the field, and he helped me do that and really taught me how to organize and run a scientific meeting. ROSOLOWSKI:

Let me just put this on pause. (audio pauses 0:24:11.1) Okay, so you were talking about your experience putting together this conference, and what was it that you gained from that experience?

KRIPKE:

Just how to do it, and it had the desired effect. It really acquainted me with people who were the major movers in the field and had my work recognized as something that was unique and important in the field. The other thing that I had to learn to do was to manage people, which was at the beginning really by trial and error and more error than success, I think, and I think it was at that time that I realized the reward for doing good science is for people to promote you into positions of leadership where you have absolutely no experience whatsoever, and so I think probably during that period I became more interested in issues of leadership rather than just strictly issues of science. And before I left, the last few years that I was in Frederick I was promoted to being the program director, and that was, again, a huge learning experience because then I was dealing with people who had been my peers, and I was now leading, and they were theoretically following, although I don't think that happened.

ROSOLOWSKI:

What kind of awareness did you have at the time of yourself as a leader? Did you have a sense of your own evolving style and what your strengths and weaknesses were in those positions?

KRIPKE:

Again, that was beginning in those days because it was—I mean, I made some awful mistakes and then came to the conclusion that that wasn't my style. I shouldn't try to do things if it's not my style. The principles of leadership which carried me through my last position really started—I really started thinking about it then and started paying more attention to issues of leadership and reading articles about leadership and effective leadership because I felt so lost in terms of my inability—inexperience and inability to actually run things.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Do you want to move now to MD Anderson and talk a bit?

KRIPKE:

Sure.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Okay, so you came to MD Anderson in 1983, and I was uncertain, were you hired with tenure?

KRIPKE:

Oh, yes.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Okay. I was uncertain from the—so you were the Kathryn O'Connor Research Professor and chair of the brand-new Department of Immunology. So again—

KRIPKE:

I'm very proud of the fact that I was 39 when I came here as department chair. I turned 40 the next week, but still.

ROSOLOWSKI:

That is great. Congratulations in retrospect. So again, starting something from scratch, first woman department head at MD Anderson.

KRIPKE:

I found out subsequently that I was also the first tenured full professor in a research department at MD Anderson. I hadn't known that until recent years. There weren't very many of us and, actually, that was one of my concerns. When we were interviewed to come here I actually asked the president. He said, "Do you have any concerns about coming here?" and I said, "Yes, I think that there are two huge obstacles. One is not being a physician in an environment that is really physician dominated, so being a PhD in a medical establishment is somewhat disconcerting." And I said, "And second, being a woman in this context," where it was clear that it was very, very male oriented, much more so than Frederick was, that was that going to be an insurmountable difficulty. The president's response was "Well, why don't you talk to my assistant about this?"

ROSOLOWSKI:

And this was Charles LeMaistre, of course, at the time, right?

KRIPKE:

Yeah. He was a delightful, delightful southern gentleman, but he couldn't quite get used to the idea that I thought of myself as being self-sufficient. He always wanted to provide assistance and open the door and hold my chair and make sure that I was not walking down the street by myself at night or something like that. He was a great gentleman, is a great gentleman.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Now, you said that the issues around being a woman were much more palpable here in Houston than they were in Frederick. How did that manifest itself when you first arrived?

KRIPKE:

Well, it was just perfectly obvious. All you had to do was look around, and the fact that I did know that I was the first chair of an academic department who was female, that there had been, of course, a head of nursing who was female. There were some other women, prominent women in the institution, but none had ever been an academic department head. I was continually the only woman in the room when I was at a meeting of department heads or activities, committees and things that were populated by senior leadership.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Now, as you went about setting up your lab from scratch I kind of want to hear about that process, if you'd like to cover that, and then maybe you could comment along the way on whether or not you ran into any difficulties in leadership in that position as you were setting up the lab in this brand-new department.

KRIPKE:

I don't think there were any difficulties that were unique to women. It was very hard from a remote site trying to organize research things in an environment that was—and to some extent still is—totally geared to the hospital. And so everything is organized and set up according to running a clinical department, not running a research department.

ROSOLOWSKI:

What are some of the differences so that I can get a handle on that?

KRIPKE:

I'll give you a recent example, visas for students. The administrative structure—the administration in most clinical departments is not set up to deal with all of the nuances and intricacies of bringing people into a laboratory who have visa issues. They're not accustomed to having visiting scientists and graduate students and whatever, and so there are no mechanisms set up to facilitate that, and to some extent that's still true in the clinical departments. It's not true in the research departments, but it is still true in the clinical departments. But again, everything is geared toward hospital practice, and I had come from a purely research institute, so this is very different, really different. Purchasing, for example, was geared toward bringing in supplies and doing all kinds of things for the hospital. It wasn't really used to bringing things in on dry ice for research purposes.

ROSOLOWSKI:

So really practical issues.

KRIPKE:

Just basic, practical things were at least initially quite frustrating.

ROSOLOWSKI:

How did you go about resolving those?

KRIPKE:

Well, we asked—Josh and I both asked the president to arrange for us an orientation with the head of finance, the head of purchasing, all of the service kinds of parts of the organization so that we could figure out how to get things done. It was very difficult to get anything done and to get any information. And again, being in a remote location did not help that situation, but they were very accommodating. That gave us the opportunity to meet with the head of personnel, the head of purchasing and so on and have a go-to person to help facilitate getting things organized so that was very—I think really crucial in terms of getting us finally up and running.

ROSOLOWSKI:

A couple of follow ups on some details. When you expressed that concern to Charles LeMaistre that there would be a different way of looking at you because you had a PhD rather than an MD how did that resolve itself? Was your fear well-founded?

KRIPKE:

It's hard to tell because my style of managing things is to simply not pay any attention to it, and so was my progress impeded versus a clinician? I don't know because I wasn't in that context. Was it impeded versus a male counterpart? I don't think so, but it was a concern. I do feel that women are not taken as seriously as men are administratively, scientifically, clinically.

ROSOLOWSKI:

And you're using the present tense.

KRIPKE:

Yes, yes, and I think it's more apparent to me now that I have been in a leadership role in the institution than it was at the time.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Do you think there have been changes in that since 1983?

KRIPKE:

Yes, and I should say that the person to whom I reported when I first arrived was the vice president for research, and he was extremely supportive and extremely careful never to make me feel like I was a second-class citizen in any way.

ROSOLOWSKI:

And this is Frederick Becker.

KRIPKE:

Yes, and he was very supportive of his women faculty members and was really a true champion of women in the institution, and he probably made it possible for me to do things. He appointed me to head one the of prestigious committees in the institution as the department head, so he made sure that I had opportunities to progress, and I think that was really very important.

ROSOLOWSKI:

I had a question on just the fact that MD Anderson was setting up a department of immunology in 1983. Were they ahead of the curve? What other significant departments of immunology were being set up? Why, then, aside from the fact that you and Dr. Fidler were available to come?

KRIPKE:

I don't know the answer to that because they had started recruiting for a head of immunology quite some time before Josh and I came here, and so they were obviously looking to start a department of immunology. I think it has to do with just the evolution of basic science at MD Anderson, and that was largely Dr. Becker's initiative, and so there were a limited number of departments, so it was a time when new, basic science departments were being created, and immunology has certainly been a major player in the cancer field for a long time. It wasn't that timely. I think it was a little late in coming probably to MD Anderson, but that has to do with simply the evolution of basic science and the timing of the development of science.

ROSOLOWSKI:

And I should just take a moment to mention for the record you've mentioned Josh several times, and I say Joshua Fidler, who runs the cancer metastasis lab and is your husband, because we hadn't mentioned his full name and title at this point.

KRIPKE:

But I know you've interviewed him.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Yes, yes, I have. I'm just mentioning that for the sake of the recorder.

KRIPKE:

Understood. ROSOLOWSKI:

Is there anything that you'd like to say about that time of setting up the lab in terms of what your goals were when you first came? What were your goals as chair?

KRIPKE:

Well, that's a double question because there were goals in setting up the laboratory, and when I came the laboratory was not built, so I was in kind of temporary space. I brought with me one person who had been my postdoctoral in Frederick, and so he came and helped set up the laboratory, and I'd had another scientist who worked with me in Frederick who had previously moved to Houston and was interested in coming back to my laboratory, and so I had 2 people whom I knew well and collaborated with, had collaborated with, who came as the starting—founding members of first of the laboratory and then the department.

ROSOLOWSKI:

And who were they?

KRIPKE:

Steven Ullrich.

ROSOLOWSKI:

And he was the grad student, the postdoctoral?

KRIPKE:

He was my postdoctoral fellow. He is now the Ad Interim Chair of Immunology, and a doctor named Honnavara Ananthaswamy, who retired about 2 years ago as a full professor at MD Anderson, and we remain good friends to this day, and we were scientific collaborators for many, many years. There were goals for setting up the laboratory and for establishing my own research, and then there were goals for recruiting people into the department and really trying to build a department of basic immunology.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Tell me about those goals in the 2 different areas.

KRIPKE:

Well, the laboratory goals were to organize things in a way that we would be able to continue the research, and part of that involved setting up an animal facility, building and setting up an animal facility and finding the people to run it in the way that we had previously experienced in Frederick. We had a wonderful animal facility there and were interested in trying to duplicate that in Houston and so that was a long, lengthy process and—

ROSOLOWSKI:

What were some of the features you were trying to replicate? I don't know anything about the issue of animal facilities.

KRIPKE:

There's a pathogen-free animal facility, which means that the animals have a defined body flora. They're not germ-free. They have bacteria and viruses, but they are the kind that live in your body normally. They are tested and known to be free of all exogenous pathogens, and we insisted on having that kind of an animal facility when many places have only conventional animals. You bring animals in, you take them out. It's not a big deal. But this is a very controlled facility with limited access, and animals don't have to be quarantined before they can go in or out. It's a very—

ROSOLOWSKI:

Sure for immunology it's—

KRIPKE:

Yes, it was a very serious operation. It turns out that most—many animal facilities are pathogen-free facilities because it's been shown that, particularly for immunology studies and for cancer studies, you really need to have that, otherwise your results are clouded by pathogens in the facility.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Were there any other goals for setting up a lab that you were working on?

KRIPKE:

Well, I was also very interested in teaching. I'd not had an opportunity to participate in any teaching previously, so I was very interested in the graduate program and so one of my goals was to become involved—there was a multi-departmental monthly institutional graduate program in immunology, and so one of the first things that I did was to join the immunology program and develop some leadership in the area of basic immunology for MD Anderson. The program previously was centered primarily at Baylor and had some people from the UT Health Sciences Center, a few people—maybe a handful of people from MD Anderson. And so that did change during my tenure as chair of immunology, and I have also started doing some formal teaching in immunology when we—

ROSOLOWSKI:

How did you find that?

KRIPKE:

I loved it. That was great. It was really extremely rewarding. I loved the students, and I loved the teaching part of it.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Are you one of the kinds of teachers whose teaching feeds their research and vice versa?

KRIPKE:

Well, that's pretty much the way it works because in order to train graduate students they have to have a research laboratory/research experience, so yes, but I like the didactic—the formal didactic training and teaching people the history of how immunology worked and how transplantation immunology developed and how to give a presentation and how to design an experiment and what are the appropriate controls that one uses, so that part of it was very appealing to me.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Was that a surprise?

KRIPKE:

Yes, actually. Yeah. I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would, and that was the one thing that I was really very reluctant to give up when I moved to full-time administration. That was one of the harder things. I did make a lot of research progress once I came to MD Anderson, so we had the dual responsibility of running our own research operation plus running a department with other principal investigators. To start a laboratory is really like starting a small business. It's like a small business enterprise. You have to have—you hire people and fire people, and you have to have the supply chain, and you have to make sure the supplies get there and everything. It really is like running a small business, and so you have to do that, plus you have to help half a dozen other people run their own small businesses and get them started and find them and recruit them and so on, so it was very all-consuming probably for the first 5 or 6 years.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Oh, interesting. For that long?

KRIPKE:

Yeah. Oh, yeah.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Because that kind of goes to the recruiting issue you were talking about earlier that part of your goal was to recruit people for the department. Can you tell me about that process? What did you want to accomplish with your recruiting program?

KRIPKE:

Well, I wanted to make sure that there were people working on different aspects of immunology than what I was interested in, and particularly I was interested in bringing in some people who did human immunology since I am a mouse doctor and all of our models were in animals. I thought it would be important to branch out so that we actually had something to do with real human immunology, so that's part of what I was looking for. Mostly I was looking for people who had excellent training, excellent backgrounds, and who had a real talent for research. And again, I must say that I learned a lot from that experience. I am not a very good recruiter. I like everybody. I like to—I hate not to hire someone, and so I'm not the best judge of who to hire either administratively or scientifically, and so I learned a lot from the process, made a number of mistakes, moved on and whatever.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Who were some of the people that you hired at the time to round out the focus of the immunology department?

KRIPKE:

Oh, goodness. It's been an awfully long time, a long time ago. I think there are still 2 faculty—well, counting Steve Ullrich there are 3 faculty members who are there whom I hired at some point during my tenure as department head, and I think all the rest of them were hired by my successor in that role.

ROSOLOWSKI:

And who was your successor?

KRIPKE:

Yong-Jun Liu, L-I-U, and I always said that the best thing I ever did for the Department of Immunology was to resign as chair and to recruit him as chair, and I still absolutely firmly believe that. He has recently left to take a position running a research institute in Dallas, actually, and he is a human immunologist, very forward thinking, works on those funny cells in the skin of other places that initiate the immune response, and he was very interested in building a program that would have an application of the basic science findings in clinical trials, in clinical medicine, and so it was an extremely—it is probably my last great immunological experiment in hiring Yong-Jun and trying to set up really a program in—multidisciplinary program in immunology. They were recruiting for a head of melanoma in medicine, and they recruited a person who is interested in immunological treatment of melanoma. The same thing happened with lymphoma. The head of lymphoma is also part of the immunology program, and then there was a person here in bone marrow transplant who was also interested in cancer vaccines and developing immunological treatments for cancer, and so that was really Young-Jun's vision was to have that kind of a program of science where everybody had their own laboratory, but the goal was to take the laboratory findings and get them into clinical medicine, and they succeeded beyond anybody's wildest dreams, I think, and so that was a very, very successful program. Building that program—we put it in a new building, and we had space, a beautiful new space to house it in—was a grand experiment which I think is probably one of my better ones.

ROSOLOWSKI:

What was the new building?

KRIPKE:

It's the South Campus Research Building 1. I was involved in the design and organization of the building, and I did talk them into putting an auditorium and cafeteria and stuff in the middle section of that building when the second half was built, so that, as I say, remains my great immunological experiment.

ROSOLOWSKI:

I read that when you came to MD Anderson you were really aware of the fact that you had to—in your words—come up to speed to work in clinical situations.

KRIPKE:

I said that? Yeah, I guess so. No, I don't—

ROSOLOWSKI:

You don't think so? Okay.

KRIPKE:

That does not sound like me.

ROSOLOWSKI:

It doesn't sound like you. (laughter)

KRIPKE:

I never worked in a clinical situation.

ROSOLOWSKI:

No, that you hadn't, so that you needed to come up to speed to get used to dealing with that situation.

KRIPKE:When I became an administrator, not when I was head of immunology. I mean, I had some sensitivity to the fact that we were in a hospital, and we should hire people who knew something about human immunology, but getting up to speed on clinical issues is what happened when I became a vice president—

ROSOLOWSKI:

Okay, because I was wondering did you ever work on any or collaborate on any projects that had direct human applications, or were you always, in your words, a mouse doctor?

KRIPKE:

I was always a mouse doctor, but I had some collaborations. I had a lot of dermatologists who came to work with me, and they, of course, did some things on people, so they were the ones who actually translated things from the laboratory into clinical use.

ROSOLOWSKI:

What were some of the—do you recall some of the findings?

KRIPKE:

I'll tell you one of my favorite findings. We were interested in understanding what was the initiating event that started all of this cascade of immunological stuff in the skin. What is ultraviolet light really doing? And one of the things that's been known for a long time that ultraviolet light does is cause DNA damage, and so the question we tried to ask is is it DNA damage that somehow triggers the response that leads to this cascade of immunological events? And I'd found a collaborator who had developed little liposomes, little fat capsules which contained an enzyme—oh, dear.

ROSOLOWSKI:

We should just pause until these—(audio pauses 51:38.0) Okay.

KRIPKE:

My collaborator had developed little fat packets that had inside them an enzyme that repaired DNA damage specifically of the kind that's made by ultraviolet light, and the minute I heard him talk again at the photobiology society meeting, this was a way to address the question that we were interested in. He had been using this in all kinds of other systems, but using these things as an approach to repair DNA damage in the skin of an animal had not been done before, and it turned out that yes, the fat little globules got into the skin. You could trace the enzyme into the cells and into the nuclei, and you could track the enzyme within the inside of the cells in the nucleus of the cell, and they actually worked to repair DNA damage, and they completely prevented the effect of ultraviolet light on the immune system, and so that was very exciting, and so I had a dermatologist from Austria who came to work with me, and he actually did some more experiments in humans.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Who was the first collaborator?

KRIPKE:

A fellow named Daniel Yarosh, Y-A-R-O-S-H.

ROSOLOWSKI:

And who was the Australian?

Dr. Kripke Austrian.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Austrian. Oh, I'm sorry. Austrian. I put an extra syllable in there.

KRIPKE:

Peter Wolf.

ROSOLOWSKI:

And did those findings end up to have some kind of clinical application?

KRIPKE:

The finding I think that had the most clinical application is the finding that UV radiation—exposure to ultraviolet light can decrease immunity to almost anything, not just to skin cancers but to other things as well, and one of the kind of side avenues that we took here was to look at the effects of ultraviolet light exposure on infectious disease models in animals, and other people went on to show that vaccinating in an area that's been exposed to ultraviolet light decreases the immune response and that there are some effects on the human immune response between light exposure and immune responses to the organisms.

ROSOLOWSKI:

But it sounds like there's still a long way to go to discern all of the complexities there.

KRIPKE:

Yes, and therapeutically there are people who are trying to use ultraviolet light to decrease unwanted immune responses in the skin and to get rid of things like—there's a graft versus host reaction that occurs when you have bone marrow transplantation where the cells, the lymphocytes that you put into the body, react against the recipient, the host, and so people are trying to use ultraviolet light to decrease the skin reaction, and so there is a phototherapy application of the ultraviolet light, but mostly it's really about understanding the mechanisms by which these very highly antigenic skin cancers are able to grow and defining the role of the immune system in the establishment of skin cancers.

ROSOLOWSKI:

I was wondering if you could talk about—I'm never quite sure how to ask this question, but I'm interested in the mental process that you go through when you're doing an investigation, what that's like, what kinds of—I mean, is it purely intellectual? Is there a sense that you've got an inner compass that tells you you're on the right track? Obviously you're doing experiments and collecting data and evaluating that data but—

KRIPKE:

But that's the end process.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Yeah.

KRIPKE:

Yeah, that's right. I'll give you a couple of examples.[CLIP C: Discovery, Creativity and Innovation, C: The Professional at Work] One is a very famous experiment that Josh Fidler and I did, probably the greatest scientific experiment he and I ever did. He had claimed in his usual flamboyant manner that cells in a cancer were heterogeneous and that cells that formed metastases preexisted in the parent population. That was his conclusion, and I kept saying "You have no proof of that. These cells could become metastatic while they're running around in the body and doing things." And so we argued and argued and argued about whether that was true or whether it was proved or how we could do it, and I remember distinctly sitting in front of a—sitting doing tissue culture one day thinking about nothing in particular and the light bulb—I mean, literally the light bulb goes off, and I stopped what I was doing. I went into his laboratory—this was in Frederick—went into his laboratory and I said, "I have the experiment to do. I know the experiment to do to settle the question." And it was cloning, making individual clones out of the tumor and asking—if he was correct then some clones would be metastatic, and other clones would not, and that was in fact the answer. But the fun part is when the light bulb goes off and you have this feeling that all of a sudden you know something or know how to do something that no one else in the world knows, and that's the exciting part. The rest is just doing the work. The other part that's really interesting is looking at the data that you've got and trying to make sense out of it. It's like solving a crossword puzzle. How does this work? What does this tell you? What can you learn from this? But the real excitement is in designing the right experiment and loving the fact that you've done the elegant experiment, the real definitive experiment that really gives you the yes or no answer, so that was one. END CLIP]

ROSOLOWSKI:

What were some of the most memorable laboratory experiments, if you can pick one out, for you? I mean, laboratory experiences, I should say, moments in your lab that were just killer.

KRIPKE:

You mean the a-ha moment kind of thing? There were really—there have been several over the years. One was listening to Dan Yarosh's talk and knowing that that was the approach that would answer the question of is DNA damage important and knowing that if they could get into the mouse skin and if the enzyme actually got to where it was supposed to be that that would be definitively answering the question, and that was very exciting. We had a long and enormously productive collaboration over that issue. Another one was early on, when we were looking at the effects of ultraviolet light on skin cancer development and on the immune response to skin cancers, we started profiling the immunology of the animals. Are they immune suppressed? Can they make responses against anything else? It turns out they can make responses against almost everything else, so the defect was very selective for cancers induced by ultraviolet light, but there were some exceptions. There were some interesting exceptions, and one of the exceptions was that animals that had been exposed to ultraviolet light, one site, and if you then immunized them at a site that was not exposed to ultraviolet light and the immunization was through the skin, the animals didn't make the immune response. There was a systemic alteration that prevented the animals from making an immune response to a—it's called contact sensitizers, what you get when you have nickel allergy or some contact allergy. Poison ivy is another example, poison oak, those kinds of things. Those are contact allergies, and ultraviolet light had the ability to turn those down or turn them off, and at first it was kind of annoying because we were so sure this was a selected response because the animals could reject other kinds of cancers. They could reject skin grafts. They could make antibody responses. They could do everything, but they couldn't do this, and it was kind of an outlier, and then I started thinking about it, and I thought, well, if ultraviolet light can alter the immune response to these chemicals that you put on the skin could you use that—what would be the implications of that for bacteria and viruses and stuff that get in through the skin, and does ultraviolet light play a role there? And it turns out it's very important in the herpes virus, by the way. And the fact that you could use that as an experimental model to understand the mechanism of what ultraviolet light was doing because you could then use the contact allergy system to follow the fate of the cells that picked up the antigen in the skin. You use a fluorescent antigen in the skin, and then it turns out they travel to the regional lymph node, and you can separate them out, and you can show they have DNA damage in them and so on. It was an a-ha moment that this wasn't an annoyance. This was a tool that could be used to really go further in the understanding of the mechanisms and what was going on and also perhaps be of some therapeutic benefit, so there you have it.

ROSOLOWSKI:

That's a great example. You've noted a bit of your collaboration with Dr. Fidler, and I notice that you've co-authored papers. Obviously you've talked and argued about things.

KRIPKE:

All of our papers were the result of an argument. (laughter)

ROSOLOWSKI:

In his interview he credits you with asking him some very challenging questions that helped him redirect his research, so I was wondering how you would summarize the effect of this kind of life partnership collaboration on your career.

KRIPKE:

Well, Josh has always been my serious political advisor. He's much more attuned to the political world than I am, and so he's been extremely helpful in that regard, and I mean the politics of science and he used to tell me—you know, you send a manuscript for publication, and it comes back, and they say, "Well, we didn't like this, and we didn't like this, and we want you to rewrite this and revise that and do 3 more experiments" and whatever. And I would start writing this long, lengthy rebuttal about how they were wrong, and that's not the way to do it, and they don't know what they're talking about. And Josh would—I would say "Look at this for me," and he'd look at it, and he says, "Do you want to get the paper published, or do you want to be right?" And so that was a real learning—a difficult learning experience for me is to kind of sit back and say okay what do we have to do to get—because if it doesn't get published no one will ever see it anyway, and so he taught me a lot about the processes of science and the politics of science and also was a very good critic of my work and writing. Was it clear? If he couldn't understand it, then no one could understand it, so it was a very synergistic relationship, and as I say, most of those scientific publications came out of an argument about who was right and designing the experiment to determine who was correct. The other interesting outcome was that my daughter—I had a 4-year-old daughter when Josh and I were married, and she grew up at the dinner table speaking both metastasis and immunology, and she could spell metastasis by the time she was 7, and she now has a PhD in immunology and works for the National Institutes of Health.

ROSOLOWSKI:

And her name is?

KRIPKE:

Katherine Kripke.

ROSOLOWSKI:

How would you say you've influenced Dr. Fidler's career?

KRIPKE:

I like to think that I've—I don't think I've influenced it in any way. I like to think that I've facilitated some things. I used to spend a lot of time reading his scientific articles, again, for clarity and logic and presentation and so on, the same kinds of things that he did for me as well, and I think we improved each other's scientific output. It was, in general, a pretty synergistic relationship. Sometimes he would think of things for me to do, new experiments that I could do and vice versa. It was a productive relationship. Pretty boring dinner table conversation if you run into it.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Well, it sounds like your daughter Katherine definitely profited enormously from it.

KRIPKE:

She benefited. By the time she went to college she already spoke immunology.

ROSOLOWSKI:

That's very cool. Now, I read at one point—I hope I got this correct—that when you—that you reluctantly gave up research to really focus much more strongly on the administrative aspect of your career.

KRIPKE:

That's true. That is correct.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Okay. And so I wondered would you like to talk about that?

KRIPKE:

I want to say one other thing about Josh's and my influence on each other's careers. In some senses it has been difficult in terms of my leadership role. I was the program director in Frederick, and he was one of the people there. Of course, he can never report to me, but it made for an awkward situation, and it probably disadvantaged him in many regards, including one at MD Anderson when I became a vice president because I feel like I had to bend over backwards not to show favoritism in cases where I had the ability to do that, and so he has been very supportive and very long-suffering in that regard. I think—would he have done differently or better? Probably not, but it was not easy for him or me.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Is there an instance that you feel you could diplomatically share that would—in which you had to make a decision that in another situation—

KRIPKE:

I can't think of a specific one.

ROSOLOWSKI:

I was just curious. Yeah, I was thinking that might have—that would bring up some very difficult issues, and I think if you had a 2-career couple there are always going to question about the activities of one that rises into a position of leadership and even more so if it's a woman in a male-dominated situation.

KRIPKE:

I think Josh has kind of had to make the decision over and over again not to move up administratively, and it has forced him to really define what it is that he—how he wanted to spend his career, so obviously I think he's made the correct choice. But as I say, it has not been easy always. ROSOLOWSKI:

Would you like to shift gears a bit and talk about administrative roles?

KRIPKE:

Sure, whatever. Yeah.

ROSOLOWSKI:

We've talked about your role as chair of your brand-new department. Is there anything else that you would like to add about building that department from an administrative point of view, maybe of connections with other programs? Or I'm just curious if there's anything we haven't covered about that.

KRIPKE:

Well, I think being chair of immunology was kind of a continuation of the learning curve or an administrative role, a leadership role, and so I continued to really try to learn about leadership and learn about administration.

ROSOLOWSKI:

What were some of the lessons that that experience taught you?

KRIPKE:

I don't think when I started that I had a very clear idea about setting goals and getting people to share goals and to move the department in the direction—it was really about hiring individuals and helping them be successful, and so I think I gradually learned about getting feedback from the other faculty members, what is working for you, what is not working for you, what could we do better to help you do your work and so on. And so that was something that I learned as part of that job just to be more conscious about leadership issues, and I should say that for the first—I don't know—probably 5 to 10 years in that position my evaluation by my superior was about my science, not about building the department and then that also—then there was more attention being paid to the department.

ROSOLOWSKI:

I was just going to ask you if you found that there was a mentor for leadership issues within the institution for you, anyone you looked to or—

KRIPKE:

I feel like I've had lots of mentors. In fact, every place that I've been I have learned something from the person that I reported to, including a lot of things about how I would not do things, which I think is just as important as learning things that you like is learning what you don't like and what you see doesn't work, and so in that sense I've had lots of mentors. They've all been male, by the way, but I think it's been—I do think that I was cognizant of what I was learning from people as I watched them in a leadership role.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Now, in 1996 through 1997 you were part of ELAM or the Executive Leadership in Medicine Program. In fact, you were the only person from Texas selected to participate in that program that year and you had mentioned—I can't remember if it was in your interview or in your autobiographical essay for Legends and Legacies that that was really a critical experience for you, and I wonder if you would talk a bit about what that was, what that offered you.

KRIPKE:

Well, it was a new program that had started the previous year, and the year that it was announced it was too soon for me to go. I couldn't organize things to get to go the first year, and so I asked permission to go to this program and I was really at a position—I had already told Dr. Becker that I would be stepping down as department chair after 15 years, and my feeling was I'm not learning anything else. This is not a learning experience for me anymore. Someone needs to come in and really take the department in a different, broader direction that has more relevance to the human cancer issue, and I'm either going to go back to the laboratory and continue my research, or I'm going to do more administration. By then I was really interested in the science of administration and in leadership issues in general from a didactic point of view, and so when this course became available I thought that would be a good thing for me to see whether I'm really—which way should I be going here, and it was interesting. There was a woman in my class my same year who was also an immunologist, and I ended up going the administration route, and she ended up staying in the laboratory. But it was a time—it was a year's program—we went for a week or 10 days or something in the fall, and we went to the American Association of Medical Colleges meeting in the winter, and then we had another week in the spring, and then we had assignments during the year in addition to that.

ROSOLOWSKI:

And this program was just for women.

KRIPKE:

It is just for women, and it's for women in academic medicine, and the entire focus of that program is to increase the numbers of women in leadership positions in academic medicine. And so it was an extremely formative experience for me. It was an eye opener for me. I learned things about leadership and administration that I had no idea about, and it was incredibly valuable in terms of teaching me how to lead people who have different styles than I do. It helped define what is my own style, what are the principles on which you are going to lead, and just really crystallizing a lot of those issues for me. It was also extremely energizing to be in a room full of very talented, very bright, very high-powered women, which is something that had been totally beyond my experience before. You're in a room full of women, and you don't have to be the one who organizes and does everything. There are other people who will also help out. But it was a phenomenally exciting time, and I really met wonderful people, and it really gave me the opportunity to reflect on where I wanted to go with my career. One of the most valuable things that they did in that course, which they are still doing now after 10, 11, 12 years, is one of the intersession assignments is to interview people in your institution, the head of development, the head of finance and administration, the head of personnel, people that you don't normally have contact with. I learned so much from that exercise about how the institution worked and what was important to people and what they were trying to accomplish in their jobs. It was really an incredible exercise. It also was amazing that they were so thrilled that somebody wanted to know what they did, also a revelation that some faculty member was interested in what they did, which was very telling. At the end of it I decided I really did want to do administration and that I was not going to—I felt for many reasons that my major contributions had been made scientifically. I always say that if I were married to anybody but Josh I probably wouldn't feel like that, but every time I think he's done his important work he comes out with something else. I thought, no, I've done my thing, and I was really interested in learning other things and moving on to something where I was kind of growing professionally, and so that was the choice. And it happened that that is when Dr. Mendelsohn came to the institution, and so that provided the opportunity because there were many changes in the administration and the structure at the time that he came, and so he gave me the opportunity to participate.

ROSOLOWSKI:

You were appointed in 1998 Vice President for Academic Programs, and maybe we could kind of do a couple things. As you talk about that appointment, take me through what your roles were, but I was also interested in going back and picking up some of those lessons that you learned during the leadership program, what you learned about your style, what you learned about creating a vision and dealing with other people, so however you want to tackle that particular territory of the vice presidency for academic programs.

KRIPKE:

It became very clear to me that you can't anticipate every set of circumstances. Once you move into that level of administration it's like the white water rafting analogy. You get in, and you start paddling because you can't do anything else, and you have time to think about what it is that you're doing, and so it's extremely important to lead from principles because it forces consistency. It enables transparency, and it gives you guideposts for decision making.

ROSOLOWSKI:

What were your principles?

KRIPKE:

One of them came from—was a mandate from Dr. Mendelsohn, and that is to support excellence. He wanted excellence in science, excellence whatever, so you support excellence. If you have a choice to make, you have to decide who gets resources, you support excellence. One of my favorites is reward the behavior that you want. I really, really tried to stick with that. It's easy to do things for people who are pounding on your desk and screaming and being the loudest, and I tried always to not reward bad behavior and to make part of the institutional awards include an element of being a role model in the institution, so reward the behavior that you want is an important one of mine.

ROSOLOWSKI:

It's administering and also culture creating in a sense.

KRIPKE:

Yeah, yeah. Another principle: always tell the truth. It's amazing how many people don't do that. Always tell the same story. I know people in leadership positions that at the scene they will say one thing in one context and say something somewhat different depending on who the audience is. That never works. It's a disaster. Or never taking responsibility for decisions and for actions, that's another principle. Always be ready to stand up and take responsibility for what it is that you're doing.

ROSOLOWSKI:

That's interesting because those sound like not only leadership principles but also just ethical principles.

KRIPKE:

It's amazing how often those are not followed. I mean, I have seen previous leaders who were very secretive about who got resources and how things worked and whatever, I suppose as a protective mechanism. Dr. Mendelsohn's administration was much more open in terms of we can all look at the finances. We all see the same numbers. We all get the same data. We all get the same story. It was a major cultural shift under Dr. Mendelsohn.

ROSOLOWSKI:

From Charles LeMaistre.

KRIPKE:

Yes, and it was partly Mr. Leach who changed the financial systems to make them totally transparent so everybody is working—all of a sudden everybody is working from the same set of numbers, which was a terrible source of contention in the previous administration. Everybody kept their own set of books. Everybody had their own numbers, and money was hidden everywhere, and that was a major cultural change.

ROSOLOWSKI:

I can see when you mention it there was just a huge institutional shift at that moment when you became vice president. Suddenly there was a new set of guiding principles at the—

KRIPKE:

Well, I don't think it happened overnight. It evolved over the first few years, but I think there was a major cultural change. There was also a big mindset change because at the time that Dr. Mendelsohn came in the institution had had an outside consulting report come in and say that managed care is going to kill your business. You're going to have to downsize. They actually did downsize the institution significantly at that time, so when I became Vice President for Academic Programs I think there were only 7,000 people in the institution. But it was an easier administrative role in those days, I can tell you.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Now, I was going to ask you what your goals were as vice president, and I don't know if those overlap with your principles or not, but how would you respond to that question about your goals and intentions?

KRIPKE:

They are overlapping with the principles to a good extent. One of the goals was to level the playing field for scientists in the institution. There's basic scientists in basic science departments. There are basic scientists in research departments that belong to clinical divisions, and there are research scientists that are in clinical departments, so there are 3 different ways that you can actually be a researcher at MD Anderson, and when I came to administration they were all treated very differently, and they were not given the same resources.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Why is that?

KRIPKE:

Historical evolution, I think. Clinical departments hired PhDs to do their work, and they hired them without any institutional support and without any infrastructure and without anything, and they controlled whether they got promoted or not, so about the time that I came to the institution they were trying to make sure that the criteria for promotion and tenure for research faculty were the same across the board. But what I inherited was a situation where everybody wanted the criteria to be the same for promotion, but the resources were very different, which is very unfair, obviously. Leveling the playing field for researchers was a major issue. Another one was the transparency issue, letting everybody know what the principles are and why decisions were made in the way they were. I really believed in trying to communicate with the other department heads, with faculty, in terms of trying to interpret the institution and what was happening in the institution for them because people—if they don't have enough information they'll make up stories about how things are working, and so that's a constant challenge is to use the opportunities that you have in meetings or whatever to really talk about your goals, the principles, what's happening, rather than just feeding people information.

ROSOLOWSKI:

How did you go about resolving or meeting that goal of leveling the playing field for researchers?

KRIPKE:

Well, I'm not sure it ever has been completely resolved, but one of the things that I did is to make sure that people were hired by the same criteria. It used to be that you could bring somebody into the institution on a non-tenure track, research non-tenure track, and then switch them into the tenure track. That doesn't work. If you want everybody to have the same resources, you have to be able to plan how many faculty positions do you have, what kind of resource packages are they going to get when they come, and so we absolutely put a stop to the ability for people just to slide people into the tenure track under the table.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Right, the, oh, gee, we like you.

KRIPKE:

Come work for me for a few years. I'll make sure you get your promotion. That was one. Another one was that research departments created during certain periods of time had lots of resources, secretary positions, technician positions, money to support departmental activities. The basic science departments had that. The other ones didn't, and again, that was a historical issue that people in the clinical departments had a different reporting structure and a different financial—they were under a different budget system. And so one of the—I think—major things that I did was to take all of those resources—and of course, if a department was created during the time when the institution had a lot of money, you got a lot of resources. And if it was created at a time when there wasn't a lot of money, you didn't get a lot of resources. What we did was to take all the positions and put them together and create a pot of dollars and then re-divide the dollars on the basis of how successful the departments were in terms of bringing in grant money, external funding. So again, it's a matter of rewarding the behavior that you want, making sure everybody understands what the game plan is, and people who lost resources of course were not very happy about it, but no one really complained about it. Everybody understood what the basis of it was.

ROSOLOWSKI:

And again, that transparency. That's so key to getting people to just buy in at least.

KRIPKE:

We tried to make it as painless as possible so that was a major—I would say a major initiative.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Was there something during that period—because you were in that role for a year, and then you were promoted to senior vice president.

KRIPKE:

Yeah, what happened was that the senior vice president position I had applied for, and so did Andy von Eschenbach, and Dr. Mendelsohn chose Andy. As he has said subsequently, he just did not think that he could have someone in that position, head of academic affairs—or he was chief academic officer—who didn't have a clinical background, so that was the clinical issue. And although I wasn't thrilled about that, he made it clear that Andy needed to incorporate me and my research talents into his administration, and so that's how that evolved. But after a year, Andy resigned from the position, and so I got the job, and I have thanked Andy many times for this, but it gave me a year to kind of get my feet on the ground, to get a better sense of the institution, to learn something about what were the issues for clinical faculty and so on before I actually took on that role. The president did me a real favor by not putting me in that role initially. It was extremely helpful, as it turns out.

ROSOLOWSKI:

What were the issues for—well, I'll let you choose how you approach what went on because you were in that position of senior vice president for 2 years. I'd like you to tell me a bit about that period and kind of what your goals were.

KRIPKE:

What happened after that was I was executive vice president.

ROSOLOWSKI:

You were then promoted to executive vice president.

KRIPKE:

That's a title issue. The job didn't change.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Okay. What was your role? It was pretty wide-reaching, as I understand, what your responsibilities were in that position.

KRIPKE:

Well, I was in charge of academic affairs, and I had a wonderful vice president. Steve Tomasovic was my vice president for academic affairs—academic programs, I guess. That's promotion and tenure, hiring and firing evaluation of all faculty. Not just the research faculty but all faculty, so that was really the difference between working under Andy and moving up into his role is that I originally had that responsibility for the research faculty, but then I inherited the clinical side as well. It was all of the academic affairs piece, all the educational programs piece which Steve also did. I guess he started out being in charge of educational programs, and I brought in someone to run academic affairs and was not happy with the outcome, so after a few years Steve took that on as well. I had all of the research administration that included the grants office, how to get grants out and in to the institution, animal care and use committee, all of the regulations surrounding research and use of hazardous substances and all of those kinds of issues, all the research infrastructure things, patents, and that's pretty much the scope of the operations.

ROSOLOWSKI:

What were your goals in dealing with this expanded—?

KRIPKE:

Survival, number one. Well, the first goal was really to develop a better understanding of the clinical side of the operation. Originally I did not have the responsibility for clinical research. That was on the clinical side, and so a lot of those functions remained under the vice president for patient care, and again, there was another reorganization at the time that I became executive vice president where clinical research was moved into my bailiwick.

ROSOLOWSKI:

What were the issues that you saw evolving for clinical faculty and researchers that were different from basic scientists?

KRIPKE:

Well, their responsibilities are so totally different. The clinicians have responsibility for taking care of patients, so they have to be in the clinic a certain number of days of the week. They don't always have the privilege of doing research. Many of them want to do research but don't have the mandate or the time or whatever, and so trying to sort that out and decide who is a physician-scientist who gets laboratory space and research resources is an issue that I think still is not very satisfactorily resolved either at MD Anderson or anywhere. It's a very difficult role, and so I really had to learn what are the specific issues of clinical faculty, a lot of which has to do with how their time is scheduled, how they are scheduled, whether they can go to scientific meetings or not, clinical meetings or not. It's just a completely different culture, and it's a completely different set of responsibilities. Basic scientists can go off and sit in scientific meetings 50 percent of the time and nobody cares. As long as you get your work done, you're producing, you're writing grants, you're being productive, it's not such a big deal for you to be somewhere else. For a clinician it's critical because you've got patients. You've got followup patients. You have real other institutional responsibilities, and I think one of the things that I've learned is that MD Anderson is not a one size fits all institution in terms of the faculty, in terms of a lot of things, in terms of a lot of policies, in terms of faculty, certainly in terms of patients. I think that's a given. That's taken for granted. But I think initially I was trying hard to be equitable and level the playing field, but it just somehow didn't work between the research and the clinical faculty, and I think that there are still some things where we try to fit everybody into the same box, and it's not a comfortable fit.

ROSOLOWSKI:

Looking at the time, and it's almost 4, I don't know if you'd like to stop for today, and we can resume tomorrow. Would that work for you?

KRIPKE:

Yeah, that's fine.

ROSOLOWSKI:

And maybe we can continue with some of your experiences at this level of administration tomorrow. That'd be great. Okay, so it's 5 minutes to 4, and terminating the interview for today.