From Bench to Bedside and Back Again
Sitting Down With... James Wilson, Rose H. Weiss Professor and Director, Orphan Disease Center, Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics, University of Pennsylvania, USA
Roisin McGuigan |
What inspired you to study medicine – and what drew you to genetics?
As an undergraduate, I was interested in the physical sciences, and had planned on attending graduate school to do chemistry. However, my father and grandfather were both physicians, and I made the decision that if I was going to have a career in science, I wanted the results of my research to be closely connected to improving outcomes for patients. So I decided to enter a combined MD/PhD program at the University of Michigan.
My interest in genetics derived from my work as a young scientist and physician – my training really set the stage for my entire career. My motivation came from the interactions I had with patients during my research, as well as in my clinical rotations in pediatrics. I got to know three different patients who had really awful genetic diseases – a young man with Lesch–Nyhan syndrome, and one who had metachromatic leukodystrophy. The third patient – one who left a lasting impression on me – was a young boy with a severe form of epidermolysis bullosa.
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