PROVIDENCE – The equipment and building are new, but there is something familiar about Annie De Groot’s new digs: her father, who was among her first faculty appointments at the University of Rhode Island.
When Annie De Groot, a Brown University professor and the chief executive officer of EpiVax, was given the job of directing the new Immunology and Informatics Institute at URI, she was quick to recruit her dad, Leslie J. De Groot.
“He has a 400-pound CV,” referring to his Curriculum Vitae, or resumé, she said, “and international recognition.”
The De Groots have crossed professional paths before. De Groot, 80, served for three decades on the faculty of the University of Chicago, where his daughter attended medical school. But they never studied together.
“When you’re that age,” she said, “you don’t want to hang out with your dad.”
They have published together, but the two did not share an office until January 2005, when Annie De Groot, 53, convinced her father to move to the East Coast, where he owns a vacation home in Nonquitt, Mass., and a sailboat moored at Padanaram Harbor.
Brown offered Leslie De Groot a position in the endocrine division and space in his daughter’s lab.
It did not take much negotiation, Annie De Groot said, given her father’s publication record and the National Institutes of Health grant that pays his salary and provides research support.
For most of Annie De Groot’s career, her research had led her far from her father’s
medical practice. Before starting the HIV and tuberculosis program at Brown in 1992, for example, she traveled several times to Africa.
She and her father never saw eye-to-eye on political questions. But in many ways, she modeled her career on his, continuing to see patients even as her research took off. “To me, that’s just what doctors do,” she said.
Over the years, Annie De Groot said, she increasingly saw similarities in their research topics. “We’d go to family reunions and always end up in a corner talking about science,” De Groot said. “Our interests overlap.”
Recently, Leslie De Groot moved his equipment to the new URI lab, where he is studying the thyroid disorder Graves disease. The two have applied for their first father-daughter grant. “He’s not going to live forever. I figured, here’s something we both enjoy, let’s do it in the same space.”