The scientist in society  pg. 5

Where will we be in 10 or 20 years in our ability to understand human health, and intervene to treat or prevent disease?

S.K. Dey, Ph.D., (left) and Haibin Wang, Ph.D., a former postdoctoral fellow and faculty member at Vanderbilt
Photo by Mary Donaldson
My guess is that molecular and personalized medicine will take center stage. There will be significant advances in our understanding of the genetic and epigenetic causes of human diseases, such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes, obesity and infectious diseases like HIV. The success of these research initiatives will, however, depend upon the national investment in basic sciences.

What advice do you have for the young person who is considering a career in science?

Have dreams and passion for knowing the unknown. It should be made clear that doing research is not a glamorous profession or hobby, it is a passion.

Upon taking office as president of the American Society for Cell Biology in 1997, Mina Bissell, Ph.D., said, “If biomedical research is truly what you want to do, then you must be willing to pay the price ... It takes time, patience, stubbornness, years and years of seven-day weeks and 18-hour days, years of poverty-level wages, predictions of doom and failure, rejections of papers and grants, depression and self-doubt ... But one persists. One continues because this is what one must do. This is what you want to do.”

The passion for research needs to be seeded when students enter high school and college. It should be made clear that the pursuit of scientific research is only for those who are truly dedicated to this endeavor. The students should be reminded that the pursuit of science is a wonderful world if you love it.

Of course, there must be in place the resources and infrastructure to nurture the dreams, imagination and passion in young men and women who are considering careers in science.

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