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Linda C. Meade-Tollin

  • Born: August 16, 1944, London, West Virginia

  Interview Details

Interview no.: 0672
Interview Date: October 1, 2009
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Interviewer: Jeannette E. Brown
No. of pages: 32
Minutes: 63

  Abstract of Interview

Linda C. Meade-Tollin was born and raised in London, West Virginia, one of two children. Her father was a dentist and a community activist, her mother a teacher of languages and a guidance counselor. Always enthusiastically encouraged by parents and teachers, Meade-Tollin did well in school, skipping two grades. When she was in ninth grade her high school was integrated, and the three top graduates in her year were black women. Although there were no science classes in her schools until high school, Meade-Tollin was always interested in science, and when she entered West Virginia State College she decided to major in chemistry. She worked at Harlem and Bellevue Hospitals before entering a chemistry PhD program at the City University of New York (CUNY) at the age of twenty one; a year later she transferred to a program in biochemistry. During her graduate career, Meade-Tollin spent time teaching and she traveled among the various CUNY campuses to do research with Burton Tropp—her doctoral thesis dealt with gene expression in E. coli.

Meade-Tollin’s first faculty appointment was at the College at Old Westbury, and, for part of her time there, she was also a visiting assistant professor at Rockefeller University, working on sickle cell anemia in Anthony Cerami’s lab. She met her future husband, Gordon Tollin, while he was on sabbatical from the University of Arizona at Bell Laboratories and Rockefeller University. She applied for and received a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral award at the University of Arizona; at the end of her award at Arizona, Meade-Tollin married and she also decided to stay at the University. She held several research, teaching, and administrative appointments there while also caring for elderly parents in her home. She was the only African-American woman to head a biomedical research laboratory at the University for many years; her areas of research focused on DNA damage, angiogenesis, and cancer invasion and metastasis. During this time she developed a reproducible and physiologically relevant bioassay for angiogenic inhibitors and enhancers suitable for drug discovery screening, and she spent a year as Faculty Development Fellow at Morehouse School of Medicine. Meade-Tollin has done many things in her career, but she considers her training and mentoring her greatest accomplishments.

She retired as a Research Assistant Professor Emerita in 2008. Now in retirement, Meade-Tollin is enjoying family, travel, health and fitness activities, and spiritual development. She is also Director of Anti-Metastasis Research for a biotech company, Cure Cancer Worldwide Corporation, and a consultant to Wish, a nutritional counseling company.


1964 B.S., Chemistry, West Virginia State College
1969 M.A., Biochemistry, Hunter College
1972 Ph.D., Biochemistry, City University of New York

  Professional Experience

Barnard College, New York, New York


Lecturer, Chemistry Section

College at Old Westbury, SUNY, Westbury, New York

1972 - 1975

Assistant Professor

The Rockefeller University, New York, New York

1973 - 1974

Visiting Assistant Professor

University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona


Research Associate, Biochemistry

University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona

1978 - 1982

Research Associate, Microbiology

University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona

1982 - 1985

Visiting Assistant Professor, Chemistry

University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona

1987 - 1992

Senior Lecturer, Biochemistry

University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona

1987 - 1989

Assistant Research Scientist, Anatomy

University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona

1989 - 1990

Research Assistant Professor, Anatomy

University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona

1990 - 1994

Research Assistant Professor, University of Arizona Cancer Center

University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona

1994 - 1995

Research Assistant Professor, Surgery

University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona

1996 - present

Research Assistant Professor, Surgery

University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona

2000 - 2008

Member/Associate Member, University of Arizona Cancer Center

University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona

2008 - present

Research Assistant Professor Emerita, Surgery

Morehouse School of Medicine

1985 - 1986

Faculty Development Fellow


1991 - 1993

NIH/NCI Minority Investigator Supplement

1994 - 1996

NIH/NHLBI Minority Investigator Supplement

1996 - 2001

NIH/NHLBI K14 Mentored Faculty Career Development Award


Henry Hill Award for outstanding research from the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers


AACR Minority Scholar Travel Award


Inducted into the African Scientific Institute


Retired from the University of Arizona College of Medicine as a Research Assistant Professor Emerita

  Table of Contents

Title and Description Page

Early Years 1

Growing up in London, West Virginia. Parents. Good in school. Science classes in high school. Integration.

College Years 5

Entered West Virginia State College at only sixteen. Bachelor’s degree in chemistry at nineteen. Alpha Kappa Alpha. Spent year at Bellevue and Harlem Hospitals. Loved learning. Decided to combine chemistry and biology in biochemistry graduate work.

Graduate School in New York City 8

Entered City College of New York.  Lived briefly with aunt in Harlem.  Traveled among the CCNY campuses.  Worked with Maria Tomasz and Burton Tropp.  Obtained PhD; thesis dealt with gene expression in E. coli.

Entering Job Market 12

Assistant professor at College at Old Westbury. Visiting assistant professor at Rockefeller University. Meets future husband. Works on sickle cell anemia in Anthony Cerami’s lab.

University of Arizona 14

Moves to Arizona, marries.  Research Associate at University of Arizona.  Cares for elderly parents.  Daughter.  Faculty Development Fellow at Morehouse School of Medicine.  Women in Science and Engineering.  Research in angiogenesis.  NOBCChE.  Grants.

Advice 20

Need network of mentors. Seek help getting grants. Find structure that helps new faculty progress. Keep track of goals. Focus. Volunteer; ask what you can do.

Post-retirement interests 22

Nature of human consciousness. Continuing to learn about many things. Tai Chi. Grandchildren.

Index 23

  About the Interviewer

Jeannette E. Brown

Jeannette E. Brown has a research MS degree from the University of Minnesota and a BS degree in the Field of Chemistry from Hunter College. She started her industrial career at CIBA 
Pharmaceutical Co. as a junior chemist, working there for eleven years, and she held the position of Research Chemist at Merck & Co. Inc. for twenty-five years. Brown is a former Faculty Associate in the department of Pre-College Programs at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, holding the title of New Jersey Statewide Systemic Initiative (NJSSI) Regional Director. She was appointed to the National Science Foundation Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women Minorities and Persons with Disabilities (CEOSE) and served on that committee for six years. She is the 2005 recipient of the American Chemical Society Dreyfus Award for mentoring minorities in science and she is currently working on a book about the history of African-American women chemists.

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