During Stuart Orkin’s training as a physician-scientist, he decided to focus on pediatric blood disorders as an area where disease genetics could connect directly to scientific investigations. His work in this field ultimately identified the genetic mutations responsible for thalassemia and chronic granulomatous disease. Recently, his focus has shifted toward singling out hematopoietic targets that can be exploited to treat hematological disorders, including leukemia and sickle cell disease. In this issue of the JCI, Editor at Large Ushma Neill interviews Dr. Orkin to discuss his path toward medicine and scientific research as well as the stories behind these highlights of his research career.
Eric Olson’s pivotal research in the field of molecular biology has uncovered the mechanisms that control cardiac and skeletal muscle development. His current work focuses on finding new treatments for muscular dystrophies, potential regenerative approaches for cardiac and skeletal muscle, and the role of epigenetic mechanisms as regulators of muscle development. Dr. Olson currently holds the Annie and Willie Nelson Professorship in Stem Cell Research at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and is himself a talented musician. This month, in a conversation with JCI Editor at Large Ushma Neill, he discusses how creativity and a love of discovery have driven his career in science and what it was like to meet Willie Nelson.
Though Bruce Alberts is well known for his work on the biochemistry of DNA replication and as the editor-in-chief of Science, he is also recognizable as the author of the seminal biology textbook Molecular Biology of the Cell. Alberts served as the president of the National Academy of Sciences for over a decade and is currently a professor at University of California, San Francisco. This year, his dedication to advancing science policy and education was recognized with the Lasker-Koshland Special Achievement Award. JCI’s editor-at-large Ushma Neill sat down with Alberts to talk about how his background in science shaped his later work as an educator and leader in science policy. They also discuss the challenges of improving science education through writing, editing, and policy making.
Alexander Rudensky’s research has defined regulatory T cells and the roles they play in autoimmunity, tolerance, allergies, infections, and cancer. After completing his PhD in Moscow in the early 1980s, Rudensky moved to the United States to study T cells under the mentorship of Charles Janeway. He is currently a professor of immunology at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. JCI Editor at Large Ushma Neill interviews Dr. Rudensky about his childhood in the Soviet Union and his early interest in mathematics and science. He discusses the mentors and coworkers who have shaped his research interests over time, and speculates about the immunological discoveries we can expect in years to come.