Hearing about the research and life stores of various Duke faculty members was really enlightening; every speaker took a different path in science, yet all seemed to truly love where they ended up in their research. While some knew from a young age that they wanted to pursue research, it was reassuring to learn about the large number who had to explore a range of possibilities before arriving at their current profession.
One speaker I really enjoyed listening to was Dr. Charles Gersbach. As a biomedical engineering major, I found his story about making the decision between research and industry extremely relatable. Also, the way in which his research combines genomic research and engineering (two fields that really interest me) is fascinating, and the possibilities of using genome editing for gene therapy opens up a number of possibilities nearly unimaginable to me. DNA used to be considered this unchangeable aspect of our selves, and for a long time there was nothing that could be done about life-threatening mutations, even if it was a simple base change. CRISPR-mediated genome editing is truly thinking outside of the box by manipulating a bacterial mechanism in order to potentially treat diseases (such as muscular dystrophy), whose causes are locked within our own genome.
To me, Dr. Gersbach’s research really exemplifies the unique interdisciplinary type of research that occurs at Duke. I first heard about his research while doing an AP Biology project in high school, and I think that was the first time I was really taken aback by how far science has come and the possibilities that are awoken by research. Someday, I hope that I can also find a way to combine my interests in genetics and engineering in a way that not only contributes to scientific knowledge, but also makes me look forward to continuing my work every day.