lessons from Dr. Pizzo

Today’s Great Teacher lecturer: Dr. Philip Pizzo, former Dean of Stanford Medical School

-Tenacity, tenacity, tenacity. If you encounter obstacle after obstacle but truly believe in your cause, KEEP GOING. All you need is passion; the rest will fall into place.

-Find your mission. In every encounter you have, especially as a leader, have a missions statement, continue REMINDING yourself of that, and have that be the thread throughout all your talks. Focus on your mission, and it will be accomplished. One source? Your patients.

-Listen. listen, listen, listen.

-You’ll never revolutionize unless you take risks.


lessons from Dr. Fauci

Today’s Great Teacher: Dr. Anthony Fauci

1. When there is a will, there is a way
2. Keep an open mind, but the bottom line: ALWAYS have the final question in mind
3. Go with your gut
4. See number 1
5. Luck favors those who are prepared for it

nerdiness cont. :)

Ok this is really true testament of my science dorkiness–I am seriously in love with the things people are doing at the NIH! So many crazy talented people, so much AWESOME science being conducted…absolutely amazing.

Had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Dunbar today and if I could clone myself, I would TOTALLY work with her (or maybe Dr. Childs). Both are incredible mentors; both are extremely brilliant; both do stuff that can use ALL my research experience and makes things come in full circle…how cool would that be!? I think in the future, once I get a computational background and learn programming and more vigorous statistics this year, I want to take another year and do research with them. Extremely, extremely awesome projects they both have going on, particularly this paper.

Tracking HPSC’s with confocal microscopy!! 😀

Sadly, I can only work with one person this year 😦 Or can I?

No, that would be suicide. Ok Sharon, lets focus here.

A good reminder to do a future post: the lure of academia vs the pull of the heart

and the search continues…


“Finding a mentor is a lot like dating…you wouldn’t respond to a super long message from a stranger, right?”   -P

Haha…these past two weeks have proven that statement to be a very accurate analogy. Like my methods towards dating, in my search for a mentor:

1. I’m open. I’m willing to listen and give people chances
2. Chemistry is important. Sounds weird putting it in this context, but it really is. Also, the ‘chemistry’ in the lab also is important…get it? HAHA sorry too tempting to pass up 😉
3. Future prospects matter…a little bit. Though less in dating than here. Or is it vice versa ???
4. Connections are vital–they make or break who you might be able to meet, and can open so many doors!!
5. I’m still too nice. Need to be more effective at communication. Need to be FIRM when I do NOT want to work with someone. No but’s…you can’t have everything!
6. I like knowing everything about a person, so in a mentor search pubmed, the NIH website and the interwebs is basically the ‘fb’ of each investigator.  haha
7. First impressions are very important.
8. At the end of the day, you just need to take a leap of faith and COMMIT!!

Unfortunately though, unlike in dating, a ‘date’ or meeting that doesn’t end up working out doesn’t mean a new friend…that’s a whole area of lost connections. Yikes.

 These past two weeks have been initially stressful, because I was in a rush to identify a mentor or at least get SOME leads…but while I would really like to identify a mentor soon (so I can start working!! and also stop wasting people’s time) I actually sort of enjoy this process. It is a lot like attending mini-seminars at an umbrella of a ‘conference’ of my research interests…it is very awesome learning about each individual team’s work, questions, and variations in methodology! I’ve learned so much in this past week…particularly because the people I talk with are so brilliant and accomplished, and have so much experience ;__; I wish I could work with everyone (maybe that’s not impossible? hmm…particularly if I do microbiome stuff?? (reality check…no))

Need to remember proper etiquette in my correspondence during this time. Particularly:

-Just like in medicine, each person you talk with is an individual who demands your individual attention, and frankly doesn’t know nor could care less about the many other people you are in correspondence with. So, RESPECT. Respond to emails in a time manner, because their time is just as important as yours. 

-Take the time to craft a well thought out, well executed email. These people, again, are at the top of their field, have years of experience, and are (amazingly) willing to give you their time! Though you are no where near their level, respect!!

-Calling someone by their first name still does NOT make them your peer. Need to get used to this. It took me a year and a half to finally get on terms with calling K by his first name, just because it was so hard for me to give him the respect I thought he deserved as my mentor otherwise. But EVERYONE does it in research. ^__^’ OK FINE, first name basis it is, but KEEP THAT RESPECT

-At the same time, don’t discount yourself. I feel almost inferior compared to the brilliance of the people here, but apparently I guess getting into the program counts for something huh? And apparently people are impressed my CV, which IS who I am, so I guess all this hard work does pay off?

I am really blessed to be accepted to a program that does recognize hard work paying off. Again, am so fortunate to have this amazing opportunity.

Also, while this is technically a ‘year off’ from med school, it is NOT a ‘year off’. Made that mistake my first summer…not going to let something as incredible as this go to waste. Already my schedule is booked for the weekend and summers…hopefully things will calm down later this year ^__^’

inspiration #?

I like to post links to people I admire, so I have a reference later on for who I might want to emulate.

Dr. Fagenholz
Spent “[first 3 years doing general surgery residency. then next 2 years] he was a research fellow…studying the epidemiology of surgical diseases such as pancreatitis and burn injury as well as the physiology of hypoxia and high altitude illness.  His high altitude work led him to Nepal where he performed field work in the Khumbu Valley and met his wife Alice, an emergency medicine physician.  Dr. Fagenholz then returned …completing his residency in General Surgery….

In addition to his travel to Nepal, Dr. Fagenholz has also worked with Partners in Health performing and teaching surgery at Butaro Hospital in Rwanda ( and is currently invovled in international surgical development through the Program in Global Surgery and Social Change at Harvard Medical School (

This guy is AWESOME!! His story ignites more frustrations on whether oncology should really be the field I want to pursue if I want to go into international work (though, there definitely is a hole there. which means lots of new research upcoming on prevention and cost juggling!). OB/GYN?? EM???? probs not surgery, though so cool!! 🙂



I realized I have a really soft spot for really smart, dorky people who are good TEACHERS. And by good teachers, I mean people who can challenge you to think on your own, but not in a way that is condescending or intimidating. People are smart and who love to share their knowledge with you in a way that breaks it down, is very understandable, and doesn’t discriminate based on background knowledge. People who give you a chance to show your abilities. When they teach, they teach to everyone, because everyone should have a fair chance to learn (especially as a team!). They are willing to tolerate mistakes as long as you learn from them. And what enables them to be good teachers is that above all, they don’t brag. They are HUMBLE, and that humility shines through.

Sigh. Hopefully one day I can be like that


this has got to be one of the most beautiful yet harrowing images i’ve ever seen (from NEJM N Engl J Med 2012; 366:1038March 15, 2012):

Note: There are reasons why this is a unique image–barium should NEVER be aspirated.

By the way, I should have known this earlier, but a LOT of my med school classmates have parents who are physicians. It’s strange because I could potentially be working with their parents in the future! Oh, the life of a med student.

I will finish by sharing my love of Abraham Verghese.

Transcript: A doctor’s touch