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Physician-Scientist Speaker Series

Posted by on Monday, November 23, 2020 in MSTP Workshop News .

by Duncan Smart (G3)

In an inspiring Fall edition of the Physician-Scientist Speaker Series, the MSTP honored our two new advising college namesakes, Dr. Kathryn Edwards and Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. The event featured keynote addresses from Dr. Edwards and Dr. Levi Garraway. Dr. Garraway spoke on behalf of his uncle, Dr. Watkins. 

Dr. Garraway, a pioneer in precision medicine and the current Chief Medical Officer and Head of Product Development for Roche and Genentech, shared his career arc as a physician-scientist. He spoke about the scientific questions he has been most interested in investigating, such as the genetic drivers of treatment resistance in cancer. As an investigator who made the jump from academia to industry, Garraway highlighted the common qualities needed for success in both, such as the ability to think creatively or to lead a complicated organization. He also highlighted the fruitful collaborations he had with industry while still in academia.

An internationally-recognized expert on vaccinology, Dr. Edwards spoke about the impact that severe Haemophilus influenzae infections in children made on her early in her career, with many children having lasting neurologic sequelae. Prior to the advent of conjugate vaccines for H. influenzae, case fatality of exceed five percent. This disease represented a problem that inspired her career dedicated to evaluating the safety and efficacy of vaccines. Her inspiring work coordinating large multi-center trials and conducting population-based surveillance studies reminds us of the great impact that safe, accessible, and affordable vaccines can have. Dr. Edwards highlighted that pursuing a meaningful scientific question with reckless abandon will lead to work that is exciting, invigorating and fulfilling.