After months of flying around to various schools and dashing around town meeting with potential advisors, collaborators, and allies, Sonia and I have made a decision that surprises both of us. We’re staying in Boston and starting PhDs at Harvard Medical School (the BBS program) this fall.
A few months ago, when we started the PhD application process, we would have said that working in a prion lab (which Harvard lacks) was our first – perhaps only – priority. Recent experiences have very gradually changed our minds. We started out with a very concrete list of what projects we wanted to pursue in grad school, and that list has undergone almost 100% turnover in the past two months, thanks largely to experiences we’ve had within about a a 5 km radius of our current workplace at Massachusetts General Hospital. We went to a CRISPR workshop at the Broad Institute, attended a lecture by Adriano Aguzzi at the Whitehead Institute, had brainstorming sessions with George Church and with Susan Lindquist. The Boston/Cambridge biotechnology hub has an unfathomable capacity to seed new ideas. And so, bit by bit, we let go of our conviction that being in a prion lab was a necessity, and came to think that our greatest contribution to the prion field could actually be to stay right where we are, and bring big ideas from the Harvard/MIT/Broad axis to bear on our disease of interest.
This will mean lots of collaborations with prion labs, so we’re looking forward to maintaining friendships and working relationships across the prion field.
As we embark on the next phase of our quest for prion therapeutics, please wish us luck, and stay in touch.