In 2007, Marcus Bosenberg was ensconced at the leafy, bucolic University of Vermont campus with what some academic physician-scientists might consider a dream career. He was a Harvard University–educated, National Institutes of Health–funded scientist with his own lab and an active clinical practice in dermatology. A sought-after speaker who had developed a mouse model of melanoma, Bosenberg was just weeks from obtaining tenure. He had it all. And then he gave it all up. “I was never really thinking I would ever move,” he says. “I really enjoyed the life I had there.” The decision to move came after giving an invited talk to the Yale School of Medicine melanoma research group, a National Cancer Institute (NCI)–funded Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) in interdisciplinary translational research. During his visit, he met a team that clearly enjoys working together, a trait not on display in some of his experiences at other academic institutions. Bosenberg was so impressed that he left Vermont to accept an untenured position in the Yale Department of Dermatology so he could work with this melanoma research team.
“You look at some institutions and there's a great group of potential investigators that could work together but don't, unless the grant cycle comes around again,” he says. “There's not enough time in life to be fighting. Here was a group that would be enjoyable to work with while at the same time hopefully discovering very important things for patients.” Three years later, Bosenberg is involved in projects that would have been out of reach at Vermont, working as part of an 80-member team led by veteran melanoma researcher Ruth Halaban, a molecular biologist who studies genes that control the malignant transformation of melanocytes.