Skip to content Skip to navigation

CheckPoints2_medium-width.jpg

<h3 style="text-align: left;"><strong><u>Becoming what you study</u></strong></h3><p style="text-align: left;">When Robert Root-Bernstein began to investigate how great scientists think, one pattern struck him as particularly odd. In interviews and letters and lab notebooks, he found reference after reference to scientists imagining themselves as the thing they studied.</p><p style="text-align: left;">A physicist, for example, might speak of becoming a quasar. "And that's really bizarre," said Root-Bernstein, a physiologist and science historian at Michigan State University in East Lansing. "What does it mean to become a quasar, for heaven's sake?"</p><p style="text-align: left;">But such thought processes were familiar to Root-Bernstein's wife, Michele&nbsp;Root-Bernstein. A poet and historian, she worked with the sort of people who would think nothing of becoming a tree in order to express the experience in verse.</p><p style="text-align: left;">The parallel suggested to Root-Bernstein that artistic and scientific creativity might share a common source, allowing them to flower in the same people. This insight appears to be borne out in The CheckPoints, a blues-rock band made up of cancer immunologists including new Nobel laureate James Allison.</p><p style="text-align: left;">All the band members are working to fight cancer by harnessing a type of white blood cell called a T cell. And they have an original song, written by John Timmerman and Patrick Hsu, from the perspective of a T cell on the attack. Here, for your enjoyment, is the first stanza of the chorus:</p><p style="text-align: left;"><br>You're mutated, but I'm educated</p><p style="text-align: left;">You're done proliferating, 'cause I'm infiltrating</p><p style="text-align: left;">I got no inhibitions, I got no fear</p><p style="text-align: left;">You're gonna be lysed 'cause…</p><p style="text-align: left;">YOU DONT BELONG HERE!</p>

Image credits:

 

Sidebar image credit: Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC)