Conan's father was born in 1929 in Worcester. He earned his medical degree from Harvard in 1954. He interned at Peter Brigham Hospital. He is the head of microbiology at Peter Brigham Hospital, and is also a professor at Harvard Medical School.
In 1988 he founded the WHONET BBS to help practicing physicians, researchers, and labs share reports of diseases. Physicians from all over the world are members. One of the articles can be found here.
He often talks to reporters about bacterial resistance to antibiotics, and has been quoted in "Newsweek," "Science," "Scientific American," and "US News and World Report."
Conan went to Harvard from 1981 to 1985. While there, he majored in American History and Literature. Conan joined the "Lampoon," the prestigious Harvard humor magazine, in his freshman year. He wrote for the magazine his entire four years, and was elected president an unprecedented two terms in a row in 1993-4. He graduated magna cum laude in 1985.
Conan worked on HBO's "Not Necessarily the News" for two years. After that, he worked on Fox's "Wilton North Report" (1987-88), a late-night comedy-and-talk show which only aired for four weeks. After that, he worked in the "Happy Happy Good Show" (1988), a stage show in Chicago. He then spent three years (1988-91) writing for "Saturday Night Live," where he won an Emmy. In 1991, he wrote a TV pilot, "Lookwell," that was produced (starring Adam West), but not picked up as a regular series. After that, he wrote for the "Simpsons" (1991-93), until he got the job of hosting "Late Night," taking over for David Letterman.
He has also written for the Hanz and Franz movie (no word on if this is dead or if the deal is still being worked on), "Groundlings" (a LA comedy group), and acted in some small films. He was also an actor in industrial films.
Some of Conan's previous writing work from SNL includes the Tom Hanks/Jon Lovitz girl-watching skit, the nude beach "penis" skit, "Singing 'Roxanne' in the Elevator with Sting," and "Mr. Short-Term Memory."
Conan has also acted in some SNL skits, including the "Irish Drinking Songs" skit, a nude talk show skit, a Twin Peaks parody, and was the doorman at the "Five Timer's Club."
Conan is credited with writing four Simpsons episodes: "New Kid on the Block," "Marge vs. the Monorail," "Homer Goes to College," and "Treehouse of Horror IV" (wraparounds). Conan is listed as a co-writer on the "Treehouse of Horror IV" episode. He also worked on many others. "Producer" credits were given to any writer who wrote significant material for an episode, but not enough to be given full writing credits. So far, there are "The Front," "Homer's Barbershop Quartet," "Treehouse of Horror III," (as "Creepy Conan O'Brien") , "Brother From The Same Planet," and "Wacking Day."
(Incidentally, "Late Night" has appeared itself on the "Simpsons." Conan interviewed "I Didn't Do It" Bart in "Bart Gets Famous," and Homer flips through Conan interviewing "Kid n' Play" during "Radioactive Man." During the "Treehouse of Horror III" episode, "King Homer" gives an undeniably Conan "rowwl" after he smells Marge's hair.)
Conan has an appearance on Adam Sandler's first CD.
Conan's Emmy is for "Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program," shared with the entire SNL writing crew, for the 1988-89 season.
Conan made his prime time debut on February 1st, as guest character Cameron Duncan on NBC's "The Single Guy."