I am delighted to be part of ScienceBlogs, the largest online community dedicated to science. I accepted this challenge because I believe that most in my profession are far more focused on making the next discovery rather than explaining to the public the value of what they do. I invite you to join me on this journey and to share my articles with anyone who has that curiosity that each of us had as a child – remember discovering your first ladybug, seeing your first rainbow? You will be an important part of an ongoing discussion about the beauty and fascination of science.
So it begins:
“We work in the dark – we do what we can – we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.”
Henry James, “The Middle Years”
Believe it or not, Henry James’ quote began the Introduction in my doctoral thesis in Chemistry. Passion, a madness for the art of science, drives me to understand the unknown. As a scientist, the joy of discovery is the reward. Imagine months, even years, of failed attempts to answer a question – then suddenly, the answer reveals itself!
But passion and logic don’t get along so well. Published scientific works have a purity of logic but are missing the story that lies behind every discovery. I chose blogging as an outlet for this tension, and because I believe that our discoveries have little value if the public does not understand them. If you want to learn about the latest discoveries in everyday language, about the stories behind them, and how they impact your day to day life, I invite you to join me on this journey. Who knows? You may end up sharing some of my madness.
My banner was created by Olga Demeshchik, Graphic Designer and a Visual Communications major in the Robert Busch School of Design at Kean University. Thanks, Olga, for your creativity!
Curious about my scientific background?
My academic training is in Chemistry (B.S., University of Virginia; M.S. and Ph.D., Northwestern University) and includes research experience as a postdoctoral fellow at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute of Harvard Medical School and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Since I was a graduate student, my research focus has been on drug discovery, beginning with my doctoral thesis on how organometallic anticancer agents work using a variety of biophysical methods as well as X-ray crystallography.
My postdoctoral fellowships included biochemical studies of DNA repair enzymes that play a major role in cancer and molecular biology analysis of the anticancer agent cisplatin. I joined Merck Research Laboratories after my postdoctoral studies, as a Research Fellow leading a group in the Department of Biochemistry. We developed assays for a variety of drug targets, including the androgen receptor that recognizes testosterone and dihydrotesterone (potential prostate cancer target), the thyroid hormone receptor (potential heart disease target among other applications), the glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor (GLP-1 receptor, a target for type 2 diabetes) as well as several enzyme targets including metallo-beta-lactamase important for bacterial antibiotic resistance.
After leading a research group at Merck Research Laboratories for almost 13 years, I returned to academia as the Herman and Margaret Sokol Professor in Chemistry at Montclair State University and served as chairperson of the Chemistry and Biochemistry department. I established a research laboratory focused on assay development for drug discovery with a focus on student learning. Our studies included a biochemical study of the role of diet in type 2 diabetes using a mouse model.
In 2008, I accepted the position of Dean of the College of Natural, Applied and Health Sciences at Kean University, and maintain a research laboratory that continues the projects described above. Our latest research project is probing the potential of repurposing drugs already approved by the FDA for new indications.
My current blog at ScienceBlogs is a major component of my public outreach to enhance understanding and appreciation of science and technology. Readers can find my previous blogs at Truthout.org, NJ Voices, OpEdNews.com and at my ongoing blog at The Huffington Post.