M. Eileen Dolan, PhD
Professor of Medicine
Department of Medicine,
University of Chicago
ASHG: If you
could go back to when you were a trainee, what is one piece
of advice you would give yourself for your current career?
I would advise myself to spend a significant amount of time
reading the literature to have a better sense of how well my
research fits into the larger picture. I find many graduate
students, like myself, get so caught up in the details of
their experiments that they fail to focus on how their
research impacts the field. In addition, I would advise to
be strategic regarding a post-doctoral fellowship. I was
extremely fortunate to work for a bright, well-funded
investigator who helped me write my first grant. That first
grant allowed me to obtain my first faculty position. I
would strongly encourage trainees to find a variety of
mentors to help them navigate their career.
What are your favorite and least favorite parts of your job?
Dr. Dolan: My favorite parts of my job include mentoring students,
collaborating with other scientists and attending national
and international meetings. Although writing grants can be
time-consuming and, at times disappointing, the process of
organizing one's thoughts, creating a testable hypothesis
and designing experiments is enjoyable. Watching students
succeed is also extremely rewarding. The least favorite part
of my job is the business componentódealing with budgets and
personnel management. I did not take business classes as an
undergraduate or graduate student so it is challenging to
learn by trial and error.
do you think the future holds for the field of genetics?
Genetics is the most exciting field in science right now
because of the potential of personalized medicine.
Understanding genes associated with disease will help in the
discovery of drugs to prevent or treat those diseases. In
the future most, if not all, hospitals will be using
genomics to improve patient outcomes. Studies identifying
genetic variants associated with drug induced adverse events
and/or response are important to the field of medicine.
Genetic studies continually improve our understanding of the
function of what was once deemed "junk DNA". Thus, the future of genetics promises increased
understanding of the function of genetic variation that
influences disease and/or response to drugs and that
knowledge will have important implications on human health
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