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Stanford University School of Medicine

New Stanford PhD biosciences students launch careers as scientists

Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of the School of Medicine, rarely misses an opportunity to stress the importance of basic science to the future of medicine. Last week's ceremony awarding new lab coats to the entering class of PhD biosciences students was the perfect opportunity to do just that.

I attended the ceremony for a story I wrote on the event and was struck by the dean’s passionate urging to the entering class —facing about three to eight years of graduate school ahead — that persistence will be the key to their success. As he said:

The key is this: Don’t become discouraged. This is a game of the long haul. In the long run what may seen like a small advance, later may be one of the most impactful things that you’ve done in your life.

Minor shared a quote from Stanford Medicine faculty Michael Levitt, PhD, reflecting on his career after winning the Nobel prize for chemistry in 2013: "You never really have a single ‘Eureka’ moment. There are a lot of small steps. Each time you solve a step that’s great — but there’s another step. It’s really important not to give up." Minor continued:

In fact it was only in looking back at his science in his early years that [Levitt] he could understand how every step mattered... His research in the early 1980s directly led to a $40-billion industry in anti-cancer drugs.

PhD Lab Coat CeremonyThe entering class of 122 new biosciences students, which includes PhD students and masters students, is an elite group chosen from an application pool of 1,959. When the ceremony concluded each student, dressed in their new white coat, headed outside for a group photo — officially scientists now. In the words of new PhD student Ron Shanderson, an Atlanta native: "It's like a formal start to everything."

Previously: A day of firsts for Stanford Medicine's new medical students and Stanford's Michael Levitt wins 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
Photos by Norbert von der Groeben

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