In this section, we highlight the human side of biomedical investigation, putting a few questions to a researcher at DMS-DHMC.
Yolanda Sanchez, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology
Sanchez studies signaling pathways that regulate cell division, DNA repair, and cell death and their role in the etiology and treatment of cancer.
If you weren't a scientist, what would you like to be?
I love what I do, and I would not change it. But I have thought that as Plan B, I'd like to own a restaurant. I find that I can make people happy the occasional times that I cook up a storm.
What is the greatest frustration in your work?
Currently, a big one for me (and many others) is the state of funding for research. When I see patients, especially children, who are afflicted with a disease that we're trying to find a therapy for, I feel frustrated with the pace of the work.
And the greatest joy?
When we make a discovery, it's like finding the piece that allows you to solve the rest of a puzzle. This may date me, but it's analogous to the feeling you get when you score in pinball—or, for today's audience, in a video game. Then you're hooked and want to get to the next level. The greatest joy is when I see the curiosity and the high of making a discovery in people I've played a role in training.
Are there misconceptions people have about your field?
The public is led to believe that all research has to be close to the clinic or it does not serve the public health. It is our duty to engage in a conversation with the public on the process of discovery and the urgent need for basic research—the foundation on which biomedical discoveries are made. Many drugs being developed today target proteins that were first identified using model organisms such as yeast, flies, worms, and frogs.
What famous person would you like to meet?
Charles Darwin and Gregor Mendel. When I teach basic genetics, I am always amazed by the fact that in the 1800s, long before we knew what the genetic material was, Gregor Mendel came up with the principles of hereditary transmission that are still in place today. Outside of science, I would like to meet Nelson Mandela.
What do you admire most in other people?
Patience and honesty in leadership.
What's the hardest lesson you ever had to learn?
Patience, and I am still working on it.
What's your favorite nonwork activity?
Traveling withmy husband and discovering new places, cultures, people, and cuisines.
If you could travel anywhere that you've never been, where
would it be?
That's a tough one. I'd like to go to Greece, Turkey, and Thailand, to name a few places. To be alone with nature, I'd like to go to Idaho and Montana; my husband has been trying to convinceme these states shouldmove up on our list.
What about you would surprise most people?
I wanted to be a nun when I was young and have wanted to ride a motorcycle for many years. When I finally had amotorcycle, I fell while taking a rider's course and wemoved toNewHampshire shortly after that. I am now trying to make time to obtain my motorcycle license, but the warm-weather season is short here so I may have to wait another year.
What kinds of music do you enjoy?
I like classical, jazz, and blues and themusic from Mexico that I grew up with.
What is a talent you wish you had?
I wish I had musical talent to play the cello.
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