Cell Mates

Cell Mates

David Bodine enlists Colby researchers in a bid to unlock the genetic mysteries of blood disorders

By Steve Heacock


 
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David Bodine ‰76 at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.
Photo by Robert Visser
Before Millard and her colleagues Frank Fekete and Judy Stone from the Biology Department started sending students to Bodine, there was Professor Art Champlin. Champlin, who passed away unexpectedly in 2003, taught Bodine at Colby in the early '70s. And it was Champlin, along with a fellow biology professor, the late Miriam Bennett, who mentored Bodine and gave him the support and encouragement he needed to thrive. "I never can repay them for the time and trouble they took with me,— said Bodine.

Bodine double majored (biology and environmental studies) and graduated cum laude with distinction in both. He also won the Webster Chester Biology Award. Bodine earned his master's in human genetics at Rutgers and his Ph.D. in zoology and genetics at the University of Maine, followed by research at the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor. In between his course work at Orono and the beginning of his research at the Jackson Lab, Bodine returned to Waterville, living briefly with Champlin and his wife, Betsy '65 (now Betsy Stark Roberts, who returned in 1971 to work in the Biology Department for 33 years).

Bodine volunteered to work in the Biology Department and, in his spare time, built a garden for the Champlins; the garden was still intact when Roberts sold the house in 2005. His interest in gardening continues. When spring bulbs are blooming at his Chevy Chase, Maryland, home (where he lives with his wife, Susan, a lawyer and assistant administrator in the EPA's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, and their two sons, Christopher and Steven), Roberts is sure to find out by e-mail. Living inside the Beltway and gardening in Hardiness Zone 6 haven't turned Bodine into an Orioles or a Nationals fan, though: his NIH e-mail handle remains tedyaz—for Red Sox legends Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski. Bodine received his Ph.D. in 1984 and did his post-doctoral and staff fellowships at the NIH's Clinical Hematology Branch of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute in Bethesda. And, as his career has progressed, he's focused some of his considerable energy on Colby.

"He is very devoted to Colby and to Colby students,— Roberts said. "He thinks of that as a very important part of his work and he's always looking for more. He would write to Art, to me, asking what we thought about certain students at Colby. I think it goes back to the mentoring he got while he was a student at Colby. He is dedicated to providing it to other Colby students.—

He also is dedicated to his profession, and that means publishing at the highest level and taking leadership roles in professional societies. He has long held leadership positions in the American Society of Hematology, the International Society of Experimental Hematology, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and the American Society of Gene Therapy, where he will serve as president beginning in 2008. He has been published widely throughout his career and has served on the editorial boards of Experimental Hematology, Gene Therapy, the British Journal of Hematology, Molecular Therapy, and Blood, the official journal of the American Society of Hematology and the most-cited peer-reviewed journal in the field.

His curriculum vitae runs more than 25 pages.

But throughout his distinguished career, one of Bodine's experiences at the Jackson Laboratory has stayed with him—and speaks to the essence of his love for his work.

"One Saturday morning I was doing an experiment that everyone thought was dumb,— he said. "I had a good hypothesis, though, and I really believed in that experiment. It required forty or fifty vials that had to be analyzed individually by a scintillation counter. I remember waiting by the counter so that I could see each value as it was recorded. I could have gone away and come back for the printout at the end of the analysis, but I was so excited to see the result, I could not wait. If anyone had seen me, they'd have thought I was nuts. But, I thought, 'I'm the only one in the world doing this and I can't wait to see the results. This must be the right place for me.'—
 
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