In the past couple of weeks, we have had a lot of amazing, accomplished speakers, all at different points in their careers, come talk to us about life and science. Each talk has been fascinating, with a new life story and lens to look at research every time.
Of all the talks, the one that stuck with me most was given by Dr.Mary Klotman, as she gave some really interesting insights into HIV research. Previously, when learning about HIV, I always looked at it from a social perspective, rather than a scientific one. Thus, her talk taught me a lot about the mechanism of the disease. For example, I did not know that the virus uses kidney cells for long term storage. Additionally, I did not realize that the virus actually integrates into a hosts genome, making it difficult to find a cure. It was really fascinating to hear information about the symptoms and pathway of the disease from someone who has seen it in both a clinical setting and laboratory.
I think her experience with seeing patients living with HIV really made her talk stick with me. Her anecdotes about the experiences of patients, from those being taken care of by their mothers to those who killed themselves, made the talk even more impactful. She did research on HIV back when it was a guaranteed death sentence, and hearing how that impacted patients along with the science behind it made the talk a good blend of social and scientific.
Overall, Dr.Klotman’s talk on HIV was fascinating and informative. It was really a privilege to hear from someone with such breadth of experience as both a doctor and a scientist.