Why This Nobel Prize Winner Did Not End Up Where He Thought


When I was growing up, my mother told me that life would be linear; every year I would get promoted and I would make money. I expected that “my happiness” with my career would constantly increase. As we all know, life doesn’t quite work out that way.

On the Small Business Radio Show this week, I talk with Dr. Bob Lefkowitz who is a Nobel-Prize-winning scientist for Chemistry who is best known for showing how adrenaline works via stimulation of specific receptors. He was trained at Columbia, the National Institutes of Health and Harvard before joining the faculty at Duke University. He is the author of “A Funny Thing Happened on The Way To Stockholm” with Randy Hall.

Interview with Dr. Bob Lefkowitz

Bob explains that “there is so much pressure to decide what you want to be when you grow up. College is for having many different experiences. You want to find something you love and that you have aptitude for…” In his late 20’s, Bob dreamed about being a family physician. He went to a special high school, then medical school to become a cardiologist. But in 1966, because of the Vietnam War, he was drafted to do research stateside. By the time Bob finished his assignment, he decided to stay in the lab and be a physician scientist.

According to Bob, the ideal career is one what you are so focused on what you are doing that it just flows. He recounts one of his favorite stories; “I was busy working in a lab, had to give a seminar in the next building. I rushed to the classroom and found very eager looking graduate students. I talked for 5 minutes, and the kids were scribbling, and I thought they were taking notes. But then one student interrupted me and said ‘I am afraid you are in the wrong place- this is the final for biochemistry 101!’ I asked why didn’t you stop me? The student explained that I seemed so into what I was talking about, I didn’t want to stop you!”

Bob also recounts his service in the Public Health Corps with Dr. Anthony Fauci and what they learned there. Listen to the entire interview on the Small Business Radio Show.

Image: duke


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