Sunday, February 12, 2012

Trying not to be nervous

With an upcoming interview I have been trying to calm my nerves with reading and as such as finally finished this book:

Can't say it helped with the nerves but it did strike my brain thinking again.

I remember being in high school, when we were still working out way through the Human Genome Project and my biology teaching was explaining what we knew about cancer then. I don't even remember what she was talking about but I am assuming it was oncogenes or tumor suppressor genes because I remember a question I asked. The Q & A went something like this:

Young EMT GFP: So if we know what genes go wrong in cancer, why can't we fix them or take them out and replace them with new ones?

Biology Teacher: I don't know, but I bet you will find that out someday.

I look back on that question now and realize what a profound question about cancer I managed to ask. I have no idea how I even put the pieces together but they are still questions we struggle with today in terms of cancer research. Granted, the questions are inevitably far more complex that what I asked in high school but while there will be no "magic bullet" cute for cancer, perhaps we can piece together smaller simpler answers that will help chip away at the beast.

There was a line in the last few chapters that described one scientist's way of looking a cancer as a function of his initial training. It rang true for me because my first job post undergrad was working in a research lab. It was an amazing experience but looking back, what I realize it did for me was take me from a budding molecular biologist who know scattered bits about a cells and gave me a system to think about.

My system became immunology and even now, years later working in a developmental lab, I can't help look at my work through the lens of the immune system. It has given me a lens to look a problems, work through them, learn from them. Sometimes it helps, sometimes it hinders, but I am learning to make it mine. Perhaps my next lens will be developmental or even stem cells. I will have to see where research takes me.

Though that of in itself is something I have been thinking about lately. I want nothing more than to get into med school. All of biological science makes more sense to me when observed through the lens of organ systems and body. Its all connected and seeing that picture makes me want to learn its details more. If there is anything my master's program taught me, this was it. But now its coming in direct contact with what I know I can do well, research.

I know many people can happily marry research and medicine, but until now I have always thought about it esoterically, as some far off future that I don't have to think about yet. A thought so far from the truth. What research I do now will build what I do in the future. I can use my research now as a spring board to future research, future jobs.

My P.I. has started to lay out paper ideas, paper ideas that can advanced basic science knowledge while working towards curing diseases. My mind has been running non-stop as to how to get these experiments going, I want them to be perfect, so that they have a real chance at working. Not because I want the papers, but because I hope someday it pans out and that a cure or at least a lasting treatment can be found. I want to see the faces of patients light up when they hear they are treated. No more drugs, no more tests, no more fearing for their life.

This, this is why I want to be a doctor, to fix people so that they may have a better life.

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