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Key to success: Vision Key to success: Passion Key to success: Perseverance Key to success: Preparation Key to success: Courage Key to success: Integrity Key to success: The American Dream Keys to success homepage More quotes on Passion More quotes on Vision More quotes on Courage More quotes on Integrity More quotes on Preparation More quotes on Perseverance More quotes on The American Dream


David Ho

AIDS Research Pioneer

David Ho: I encountered an array of receptions from the kids. As you might expect, some kids are cruel and if you can't say anything, they make fun of you. They call you stupid or other names. But, there are also a lot of kids who are quite reasonable, who try to help. I certainly remember a lot of them. Sure, when other kids are being cruel, it's very, very tough and then you have nothing to come back with simply because you can't express yourself.
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David Ho

AIDS Research Pioneer

We went into the experiment expecting to see some positive effect of the approach, and it didn't come up and we thought, "Well, maybe it's only this case. Let's wait until one and many more," and repeatedly it failed and failed. We were more interested in finding out why because there has to be an answer there. And, that process was pretty exciting, to be the one showing that it doesn't work although we wanted the positive result rather than the negative result, but that's science. You get a negative result and now you have to figure out why because it works beautifully in the test tube. Why isn't it working in the patient? And that answer and that discovery process really taught us a lot about HIV. And, this is the joy of science because you go into it because you're curious and you figure things out and you say, "Wow."
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David Ho

AIDS Research Pioneer

David Ho: I felt disheartened and beaten for a long time. Even though the science was coming out positively, we weren't making much progress for the patients. So, as scientists we could sit and celebrate each successful experiment, but we made very little difference to the lives of patients with HIV infection and that was very disheartening. And, seeing lots of patients go over that decade and almost a decade and a half is quite devastating, but I never said, "This is too disheartening. I'm going to quit." We were learning so much about the virus, one optimistically could expect some progress to come along. And, in fact, it did come along in 1994 when the protease inhibitors first went into human testing.
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Susan Hockfield

President Emeritus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Susan Hockfield: When I got to graduate school, it was suggested many times that I should perhaps not just get a Ph.D. but get a Ph.D. and an M.D. And it was funny, I started graduate school in January. I have done more things than probably would be good for me counter-cyclically. So rather than starting in September with everyone else, I started with January, just because that's the way it worked out. Actually, because I was anxious to start now. Once I've decided what I want to do, I want to do it now. I'm not a particularly patient person. And I had the remarkable good fortune to get a summer internship in a lab at the National Institutes of Health, a neurobiology lab. And so during the academic year from September through June I would take classes, and then from June through September I would be in the lab full-time, and I would try to get to the lab as much as I could during the course period of the year. And every time I thought about doing the M.D., all I could think about was that there would be long stretches of time when I couldn't be in the lab, and I just couldn't do it. I just could not imagine not being in the lab.
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Susan Hockfield

President Emeritus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Technology determines in a very important way what you can see, what you can do. You can't do experiments beyond what your technology allows, and often the breakthroughs come because you or someone else has figured out how to make that technology go a little deeper, go a little further, provide a little higher resolution. But early molecular biology required a huge vat of one kind of cells, multiplied over a zillion times, in order to find a single gene. So just the requirements of doing molecular biology experiments basically require that you had a single cell, and a hundred thousand copies of that single cell, in order to get your hands on a gene that was important in that cell. But by the late '70s, the techniques had gotten better, so that you could study a gene that was not expressed in a hundred thousand of the exact same cells, but you could actually find it in a complicated tissue like the brain. The brain has thousands and thousands of different kinds of cells. Some cells express these acetylcholine receptors, some don't. And the resolution of the molecular biology techniques finally began to allow you to look at a complicated tissue. And so I, as I started my own lab at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, had access to technologies that we really never had before, and that allowed us to look at what was happening at the level of individual cells in the brain. So I did all brain all the time, but I would no longer be characterized as a neuro-anatomist. I became a molecular neurobiologist and devoted the rest of my research real exclusively to questions of brain development mostly.
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Khaled Hosseini

Afghanistan's Tumultuous History

I was working full-time as a doctor then, so I would basically get up at about 4:45, 5:00 in the morning, and I would write the novel for about three hours and then get ready and leave, see my patients at 8:45, and then I would do it again the next day. But it became a routine for me. I learned a lot about myself that year. I learned a lot about what it takes to write a novel. There is a romantic notion to writing a novel, especially when you are starting it. You are embarking on this incredibly exciting journey, and you're going to write your first novel, you're going to write a book. Until you're about 50 pages into it, and that romance wears off, and then you're left with a very stark reality of having to write the rest of this thing. And that's where a lot of novels die. A lot of 50-page unfinished novels are sitting in a lot of drawers across this country. Well, what it takes at that point is discipline, and it really comes down to that.
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Khaled Hosseini

Afghanistan's Tumultuous History

You have to be more stubborn than the manuscript, and you have to punch in and punch out every day, regardless of whether it's going well, regardless of whether it's going badly. And I said to myself, "I'm going to wake up every day at 5:00, and I'm going to keep wrestling this thing until I've got it down, and I'm going to win this thing." And that's pretty much what it took both times to write my novels. It's largely an act of perseverance and outlasting the manuscript who really, really wants to, wants to defeat you. The story really wants to defeat you, and you just have to be more mulish than the story. And that's what it came down to. I'm being slightly facetious, but it really is, you really can't give up. And of course, at one point the story, something grabs, took hold of me, and at that point, there was no choice left. I was so taken with the story, and so swept up in that world, that I had to write it. At that point, there was no choice. I really had to finish it.
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Khaled Hosseini

Afghanistan's Tumultuous History

I didn't know anything about what it takes to publish a novel. And so as I wrote the novel, and increasingly it looked like I was going to submit it, as unlikely as that seemed initially, I had to learn how books are published. So I went and bought a book called How to Publish Your First Novel, and I learned through that book that you have to find an agent. So then I went and got a book that is called How to Find an Agent. And then I eventually just sent submissions to agents in New York and got connected with a woman named Elaine Koster in New York, who called me, and I had one of the most amazing, surreal phone conversations of my life with her. She called me at my home -- I had absolutely no expectation that anybody would look at this thing, read it, talk to me about it. I fully expected the thing to end up with a slush pile, in a trash bin. She called me and she said, "You're going to publish your first novel. There is no question in my mind about that. The question is: where?" And I was like completely stunned.
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Khaled Hosseini

Afghanistan's Tumultuous History

Khaled Hosseini: I cold-called a bunch of agents through mail. I just sent them three or four chapters with a query letter and a synopsis, and I said, "Look, I'm a doctor working at Kaiser, but I've written this novel. I'm from Afghanistan. Here's a novel, here's a story. Call me if you like it." That was basically the way it worked out. And as I said, I didn't expect anybody to -- in fact, I got rejected more than 30 times before Elaine called me. I still have the manila folders of all of the rejections that I received from agencies. I didn't take it personally, I knew that you have to have a thick skin, that rejection is part of the game. If I'm going to submit, I have to expect that I'm going to get rejected a whole bunch of times, and hopefully somebody will respond, and that is what happened.
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Khaled Hosseini

Afghanistan's Tumultuous History

Khaled Hosseini: I had waves of submission, and I started getting lots of rejections, and I would just kind of stubbornly keep submitting to six, seven agents at a time. And I had a nice little collection of rejections by the time she called me. Most of the rejections were very impersonal: "Your book is not right for us. Thank you." -- which led me to believe that they hadn't read it. Some of them had actually read it, and I remember one rejection was, you know, "We like your book, but we think Afghanistan is passé. We think people don't want to really hear about Afghanistan, they are sick of it, maybe in a few years if you submit it again." And it was at that point that I realized what a subjective industry publishing is, and you can't give up, you can't just let that get you down and you just have to accept that and move on and keep pushing, so I did and found Elaine. She said that, "Your book is going to be a very, very big success, and the publisher said that." So I was all geared up for the book the day it comes out, and then the reality, of course, is that when the book is published, it's just a book in a sea, in an ocean of books. And the odds against it becoming a success are astronomically high. So I feel like for me to be here today speaking to you, and everything that has happened, it's just been a series of really kind of very, very unlikely miracles.
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