Paul Odgren spent his childhood and school years in the town of Auburn, MA, just a few miles from the Medical School. His father, a sheet metal worker, actually helped to build the main Medical School Building in 1970-‘72. After a brief and incomplete period of undergraduate study, Paul was trained as a medical lab technician in the Tufts Hematology unit at Boston City Hospital in the early 1970’s. He also played drums in many bands in Eastern and Central Massachusetts, including bands with his musician brothers, Dick and Jim Odgren.
After several years in the blood bank lab at BCH, he moved to the Worcester area and took a position as the first blood bank technologist on the afternoon/evening shift at the new UMass Medical Center Hospital in 1976. That summer, he moved to the Blood Bank Research lab under the direction of Dr. Irma Szymanski. He became the lab’s supervisor in 1980. In that lab, he developed a series of sensitive immunoassays for soluble and cell-bound immune system molecules, including immunoglobulins and complement. He published his first eleven research papers from that work. Along the way, he finished his B.S. degree through the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in Biomedical Laboratory Science.
In 1990 he entered the UMMS Ph.D. program in Biomedical Sciences and earned his Ph.D. in 1995 under the direction of Dr. Edward Fey. The thesis topics were the molecular characterization of mitofilin, a novel protein of the inner mitochondrial membrane; quantitative western blots for cancer detection; and a bioinformatics analysis of the phylogenetic occurrence of coiled coil proteins in terms of cell and tissue structure in Metazoa.
He became a post-doc in the lab of Drs. Gary and Janet Stein in 1996, where he introduced fluorescence microscopy to that lab’s repertoire of investigative tools. He also worked on CDP-CUT domain proteins in the cell cycle, on the localization and biochemical properties of the transcription factor, YY1, and on the pro-and anti-transcriptional activities of the AP1 site binding factors, SP1 and SP3.
Dr. Odgren was recruited later that year to become lab manager and senior post-doc in Sandy Marks’s lab. He was soon promoted to Instructor, got his first RO1 grant as PI funded, and then became Assistant Professor of Cell Biology. He was also co-investigator on Sandy’s RO1 grant. In 2002, with the sudden passing of Dr. Marks, Paul became the PI of the lab. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 2009. During his time in the lab, he has led projects which produced a number of discoveries in the genetics of bone disease, osteoclast cell biology, histochemical methods, cartilage cryopreservation, and related areas.