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David Ho

AIDS Research Pioneer

I was at the right place at the right time, having just finished the right type of training, getting ready to do the right type of training that would be relevant to this problem. Chance does play a very, very important role. The other thing I've been telling some of the students here is that serendipity plays an important role, but we have to be prepared to take advantage of the opportunities that are bubbled up by serendipity. And, I certainly, for this particular problem, once I grabbed onto it I did not let go, even though in the early years it was not a problem and people would say, "Well why are you interested in a problem that effects the gay men and drug users?" You know, it's a disease and one should not look upon it in that way. And so, I went full speed ahead on this particular problem.
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David Ho

AIDS Research Pioneer

A lot of what we're looking at is the result of that process from our lab as well as the laboratories of several groups around the world, basically realizing the kinetics of the virus, using that information to do calculations. And, this is where my physical science background really came in useful, having a strong background in mathematics and applying it to biology and then being able to go on with a hypothesis, saying that if we approach treatment in this fashion with these types of drugs in combination, these are the results we expect. And, most of that has come true over the last few years, and now we need to see how far we could go with this whole strategy.
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Susan Hockfield

President Emeritus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

When I think back to the things that intrigued me, when I was probably by four or five, it was biological things. And so I had this sense of enormous anticipation. My older sister, of course, got to freshman biology in high school before I did. I was so envious. Oh, I was so envious! And when I finally got to that course it was just heaven. And then I took a marvelous course my senior year. There was an advanced biology class for a small set of students who had been through the whole science sequence, and it was a wonderful, wonderful class. We worked with real animals, we did experiments with rats. It was really about mammalian physiology, and that was a terrific class. And I arranged -- I don't know where I got this idea -- but I arranged to take the AP exam in biology. The school didn't give an AP course in biology. There was AP English and AP math -- probably AP history, I don't think I took that -- but somehow I got the idea in my head that I would like to take AP biology. So I was excused from class to spend -- I don't remember how many weeks -- sitting in the library reading a college biology textbook, which was interesting but I don't describe it as a lot of fun.
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Susan Hockfield

President Emeritus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Susan Hockfield: Steven Gobel. That was funny. Again, serendipity, unusual. I was the only graduate student he ever had. At NIH there aren't graduate students. Generally, you have post-docs -- you don't have graduate students -- and so I was his only graduate student, and what a wonderful experience for me. I had worked in a lab already for two years, so if you enter graduate school without any previous lab experience, there's a huge amount you need to learn just in terms of how you work in a lab. There are thousands of things about how you work in a lab that you just need to learn, and it takes some time. But I had already learned much of that as a lab technician, and if I had gone to work with a scientist who is used to having graduate students, I would've done the things that graduate students do. But instead I went to work with someone who was used to having post-docs, so he didn't think there was anything unusual about my fast-forwarding through that graduate student stuff and just jumping in essentially at a post-doc level. So my graduate research was done with the kind of independence normally accorded only to a post-doc, and I was in an environment where everyone was considered to be a mature scientist, and it was just wonderful. Wonderful. There were very few graduate students around, so I had access to spectacular scientists, one on one, in the midst of this very large group in which I was working. A hugely fortunate, deep, intense educational experience.
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Khaled Hosseini

Afghanistan's Tumultuous History

Khaled Hosseini: I was a very serious student in school. My parents were both -- they weren't intensely involved with our studies, but they were involved in a very global fashion in the sense that they told us that education is really important, you have to do your homework, you have to study and you have to do well. And those were the principles in the house. That was our job, to study and do well. So I was a good student, all of my siblings were good students. We were all pretty sensible kids. Homework and school always came first. And so I did well when I was in school in Kabul in all of my subjects, and those were kind of a lesson and principles that served me well when I came over to the U.S. in 1980. I had already developed the habits of being a good student and being very diligent, and so I did very well in high school here and through college and so on. So I always was a pretty good student.
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Khaled Hosseini

Afghanistan's Tumultuous History

Khaled Hosseini: I don't want to say that I was an exceptionally observant child, but I think to some level, I must have been. I must have had some sense of awareness about my life and some ability to put it in context for myself. Because I remember when I was a kid in Kabul writing stories, and all those stories, now that I think about them, and I don't remember them all, but I remember some of them, had this idea of social class. They had this theme of the clash between the different social classes and the kind of inequities that exist in the world. Because when you grow up in a Third World country, you know, poverty and affluence are juxtaposed. It's literally next door -- you don't have to go to another zip code. It's right there when you walk out in the street, and there are beggars and so on and so forth. So it becomes part of your life, and you can either not, just not reflect on it, but I must have, because I remember my stories always had to do with these things. There was always some guy who came from a very affluent background and some person who came from a much less privileged background, and their lives collided in some way, and tragedy would ensue inevitably. I mean, sort of a recurring theme in my stories, and The Kite Runner is very similar to that. So I think I must have had that, and maybe you call it guilt or it's quite possibly that.
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Khaled Hosseini

Afghanistan's Tumultuous History

So I use the first draft purely as a frame on which to build the actual story. So a lot of my writing is done through rewriting. And I don't become discouraged by the notion that my first draft is not going to win any prizes or that it's not going to be -- I understand that it's going to be lousy, but I want all of the essential elements to be there. The heart of the story has to be in that first draft, and then I can use that to create something and discover things about the story. When I wrote, for instance, The Kite Runner, there were a lot of things in that first draft that stayed, but some things in that first draft were tossed, and the transformation in some passages were very dramatic. I wrote an entire draft where the two kids were not brothers, and it really wasn't until a subsequent draft when I realized that the kids, suddenly the idea came -- well, what if the kids are brothers, and that changed the whole tone of the story. And when I rewrote it, writing it with that knowledge, it changed everything. And so you can get discouraged. Writing is largely about rewriting, and I abhor writing the first draft. I love writing subsequent drafts because that's when I can see the story getting closer and closer to what I intended and what my original hopes for it were.
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