Tuesday, July 22, 2014

People motivated research

Two of my good friends are facing tough times. Bottom line: I hate cancer. Hate it. Hate it. Hate it. Please pray for both friends. One who has breast cancer and the other friend along with her family as they face the path that lies ahead. Pray for the doctors who will treat them. Pray for care givers to get some rest. Pray for a miracle for my friend's sweet brother. Pray for scientists who are working so hard to find cures for disease both common and rare.

One of the reasons I wanted to start blogging again was to help in my pursuit of a more purposeful life. The news of my friends, a seminar I heard at work last week, and the way cancer has impacted my own family have all culminated in a lot of personal reflection. How can I use what I know how to do to make a difference? I have a new motto that I hope to apply to all my work.

The type of research I do right now is the type of research that won't have an immediate impact on people. Maybe some day the work I do now will be used to help make dietary recommendations more meaningful. Maybe some day the methods I help develop will be used so that we can learn more about how diet choices affect different kinds of people in different ways. Some days I wish I was working directly with people finding cures for cancer, or working to working directly with cancer survivors and their families to see how diet choices are related to preventing recurrence of cancer. I know I am where I'm supposed to be, learning the skills that will help me as I develop my career in research. Team science is the way forward. We scientists aren't going to solve major problems on our own. I often wonder what my team will look like after I leave my post-doc. Will I end up in a nutrition department, a medical school, a school of public health? I know what my dream job looks like, but I also know that plans can change depending on the options put in front of you. I look forward to the day when I can apply for a grant, and in the rationale I will be able to say how the project will impact the people we all care about. So for now, please add me to the list so scientists you pray for when you pray that we will use our research in a way that will make a difference in this broken world we live in.

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