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  15 August 2016  
  Bernd GLOSS  

Bernd GLOSS, PhD
National Institute for Environmental Health Science

Durham, North Carolina, USA
E-Mail :

Junior Research fellow at IMCB: 1987-1990
Research fellow at IMCB: 1990-1993
Project Scientist, University of California, San Diego, USA :1994-2004
Principal Investigator Duke University, North Carolina, USA: 2004-2011
Biologist, National Institute for Environmental Health Science, Durham, North Carolina, USA: 2011-present

My Singapore adventure began with a phone call from Louis Lim to Uli Bernard, my mentor and friend, in July 1986. The first paragraphs of Uli's alumni feature (please see describe the events that led to my decision to join him in Singapore. Between July 1986 and my flight to Singapore from Germany in September 1987, Uli had promised me a great institution with wonderful people, generous funding and an enchanting tropical city full of life. Guess what? He upheld all his promises! Uli came to Changi to pick me up and brought me straight to the lab because I had brought some frozen protein samples along that had to be stored right away. A few of these samples we used later to map proteins on the HPV16 enhancer. Some of the first IMCB employees that I met working late that evening were Heng Fong and Kalwant in Alan Porter's lab, and Michele in Uli's lab, who would become my wife later.

The next day I was introduced to everyone in IMCB. There were only about 70 employees then and we got to know one another quite well in the following months. We exchanged reagents, thoughts and our personal stories. It was an atmosphere of trust, support and mutual understanding. We all had the same goal: to do the best research possible and we all had to overcome the same hurdles getting there with the help and guidance of our principal investigators. IMCB was better equipped than the labs I had seen in Germany or in the USA (I had worked at the Salk Institute in La Jolla in 1986). My colleagues in Uli's lab at that time - Woon Khiong, Terence, Vincent, Kok Man, Michele and Shih Yen - worked hard. With the help of my colleagues, I was fortunate to generate the data for two papers in the first two years that helped me earn my PhD by 1990. I was IMCB's first PhD graduate and I remember being interviewed for the evening news on TV after my convocation. IMCB, with Chris Tan as director and Uli Bernard as my supervisor, provided so much support and opportunity that it was an easy decision to stay for my postdoctoral training. Michele and I had a baby and although Michele was starting on her PhD, we tackled the challenges of parenting and graduate research and had a wonderful life in Singapore.

Looking for new opportunities and a change in environment three years later, I applied for fellowships to work in laboratories in USA. Eventually I decided to join the Rosenfeld lab at the University of California, San Diego in 1993 as a Human Frontier Science Program Organization (HFSPO) fellow. I stayed for almost four years. Michele and I had another child in 1995 and I applied for a position at UCSD where Michele had started to work shortly after we arrived in San Diego in January 1993. I joined the group of Wolfgang Dillmann at UCSD and worked on thyroid hormone action in the heart for many years. My experience with the Cre/loxP system to create conditional knockouts in the heart earned me the opportunity to be recruited to the faculty at Duke University, North Carolina in 2004. It meant taking the children out from their California schools, Michele had to find a new job and we had to sell our La Jolla house. But it was a worthwhile move to North Carolina. New people, new schools, new job - challenges all the way and we all grew through these experiences. I set up a Neurotransgenic lab at Duke and generated mouse models mainly for neurological diseases using BAC recombineering technology. During that time, I wrote an NIH grant which was funded and I was the principal investigator of a small team generating Tamoxifen inducible Cre mouse lines that are now distributed by Jackson Laboratories and are used worldwide.

The desire for a more stable and permanent position led me to contact David Armstrong, Chief of Neurobiology at the National Institute for Environmental Health Science in 2011. I had heard his talk at the Synapse Club organized by George Augustine when we were still at Duke, and became interested in his work. He offered me a position with the United States Government that recently became permanent. Besides training and advising younger scientists here at NIEHS, I am designing and producing Adeno Associated virus preparations that are used to express genes in the brain of mice. At the same time, I continue to engineer bacterial artificial chromosomes (BACs) to derive transgenes, mainly for expression of a wide variety of proteins in the brain of transgenic mice that are used as models for neurological diseases. I never left the bench and I am very fortunate that I can still do cutting edge experiments which continue to challenge and fascinate me.

My private life with a Singaporean wife has remained colourful and interesting. Michele remained at Duke University in all these years working to understand the mechanisms of chronic pain, still using the skills that she had learned at NUS during her PhD. Our children go their own way. Nadine pursues a PhD in Leeds, United Kingdom and our son Gabriel studies Computer Science at North Carolina State University. Michele and I very often talk about our beginnings in Singapore and how the generosity and support of this country has formed the basis for our success in Science and enabled us to contribute to the improvement and deeper understanding of neurological disorders. We are both grateful to IMCB as an organization that brought us together in 1987 and our union has bridged our families across three continents. For me, going back to Singapore has always been like going home to friends and family and I have always felt so welcomed and happy when I step out of Changi Airport to come to this wonderful country.



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