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Johnnetta Cole

Past President of Spelman College

George Eaton Simpson, who I am still in very close touch with, in his 90s, stood up, this tall, lanky, white American man, and he put a record on the record player, started to simulate hyperventilation. Music was playing, which I learned later was the music of Jamaican cults, and he began to hyperventilate in a simulated way, to move to the music and to talk about what were the retentions of African culture in the New World ways of Black folk.
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Francis Collins

Presidential Medal of Freedom

In that first few months as a medical student I remember a day just as clear as if it was yesterday, where a pediatrician came to talk to us, and he brought with him a couple of patients who had genetic diseases. And it was so powerful to see the consequences of a small change in this wonderful molecule called DNA. Just one letter out of place causing a disease like sickle cell anemia, which was one of the individuals that he brought, or galacticemia, a newborn baby that he brought to class. And that, maybe because it also appealed to the mathematical part of me that liked the precision of DNA and its coding capacity -- it's a digital molecule after all -- made it so clear at that moment, that day, that's what I want to do.
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Francis Collins

Presidential Medal of Freedom

As a geneticist, I look forward to the time when we can say -- because we'll have all the data -- that race doesn't really exist. It may be a social construct, it may be a cultural construct, but it sure ain't a scientific construct. And I think we already know that in some generalities, but we'll know that in detail pretty soon. And that will be good, because I think that is a chronic sore on our culture that we are unwilling to cope with. And for the 21st century, if we could focus on that as our highest priority, that would be wonderful.
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Francis Collins

Presidential Medal of Freedom

Somebody pointed me towards C.S. Lewis's little book called Mere Christianity, which took all of my arguments that I thought were so airtight about the fact that faith is just irrational, and proved them totally full of holes. And in fact, turned them around the other way, and convinced me that the choice to believe is actually the most rational conclusion when you look at the evidence around you. That was a shocking sort of revelation, and one that I fought bitterly for about a year and then finally decided to accept. And that's a book I go back to regularly, to dig through there for the truths that you find there, which are not truths that Lewis would claim he discovered for the first time, but he certainly expresses them in a very powerful way to somebody who is not willing to accept faith on an emotional basis, and I wasn't.
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Denton Cooley

Pioneer of Heart Transplants

Denton Cooley: At that time, the interest in heart transplantation was waning somewhat, because people were becoming concerned about rejection. And I knew that we were having more difficult time getting donors. And here was a man who needed a transplant. Needed it badly and immediately, and we were having a difficult time getting a donor for him. I did know that if we used this artificial heart, we could use that as a bridge to transplantation, and it might even stimulate the actual donation of an organ. So, when the time came and things became critical with him, we went ahead and used this artificial heart to keep him alive until we could get a donor heart. And it did keep him alive. Unfortunately, he didn't live very long after he had the heart transplantation, because he died of pneumonia. But nevertheless, it demonstrated that the artificial heart could sustain life.
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Denton Cooley

Pioneer of Heart Transplants

Denton Cooley: I think that we are getting closer to solving the problem of malignancies and cancer. And I think that we will probably see some real advances made in that direction in the next decade. I think that, as far as my specialty is concerned, most of the exciting things have been done. We have had so many procedures now to do to the heart, that now we may perfect what we are doing some, but no real exciting breakthroughs like transplantation, open heart surgery, or the artificial heart. I think that most of the publicity and excitement has gone. I think the real practical advances we can look forward to are better methods of diagnosis, enhanced of course, by computers. So computerization pretty soon will be a more standard thing, like x-rays and other things. And it will make the future much better in this field of diagnosis of disease.
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