I am currently a geriatrician, providing medical care for elderly patients; a clinical investigator, studying the causes and treatments of common age-related diseases; and a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, teaching medical students, residents and fellows the principles and practice of geriatric medicine. My career interest in the field of aging started at F&M where I conducted an honors research project under the supervision of Professor Carl Pike, studying the aging of bean leaves. I remember those glorious spring weekends when everyone was listening to music in the quad and I was in Dr. Pike’s Biology Lab extracting RNA from bean leaves to discover why they turned yellow and died. I must admit, I enjoyed solving the mysteries of science and knew I wanted to do this for my career.
Geriatric Medicine not only requires an understanding of science, but also an appreciation of culture, history, sociology, and the arts – all of which I was first exposed to at F&M. My appreciation for the stories of my patients who immigrated from Russia or Germany during the first half of the 20th Century, my ability to communicate with some of them in German, and my fascination with their different cultural responses to illness and its treatment, all had their foundation in my coursework at F&M.
As I stand in front of my students and try to teach them the principles of medicine, I recall my outstanding teachers and role models at F&M. They inspired me to pursue an academic career. Their genuine interest in me, my fellow students, and our future success, demonstrated the art of good mentoring, which I try to emulate today. I find it remarkable, and quite unusual, that to this day, over 40 years since I entered the College, I remain close to my Biology Professor, Dr. Carl Pike. Carl who took me into his lab to study aging and I have been studying it, treating it, teaching it, and fortunately, experiencing it ever since.