Michael N. Hall was recently announced as the recipient of the 2017 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award for the discovery of TOR proteins, which play a central role in the nutrient-sensing system that controls cell growth. This breakthrough finding paved the way for key insights into the pathogenesis and the treatment of wide-ranging human diseases. Hall joined JCI’s Editor at Large Ushma Neill to discuss his international upbringing and the circumstances that led to his team’s characterization of this essential signaling pathway. In the interview, he also reveals why the research project nearly failed before it began and how TOR got its name.
In 2012, the JCI’s Editor in Chief Howard Rockman proposed a new series focusing on the careers of today’s most accomplished physician-scientists. Since then, Editor at Large Ushma Neill has interviewed scientists as part of the Conversations with Giants in Medicine series, including Laurie Glimcher, Huda Zoghbi, and Oliver Smithies. The interviews have revealed the diverse career paths, hidden talents, and sometimes quirky personalities of this inspirational group of researchers. To reflect on her experiences, she collected her favorite moments from the series in this highlight reel.
JCI Editor at Large Ushma S. Neill shares some of the best moments from the series Conversations with Giants in Medicine, 2012–2017.
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.