The Adventure Issue

Of Two Minds

Two MD-PhD students are named to the Forbes “30 Under 30” lists

The 2015 Forbes “30 Under 30” lists include Alex Bick ’16 and Eran Hodis ’19, both students in the Harvard/MIT MD-PhD Program.

Bick was among the up-and-comers in the Forbes health care group because of his computer analyses of scientific and medical big data. His research showing how genetic mutations can affect a patient’s response to blood pressure medication has been widely cited.

Hodis made Forbes’ must-watch list in science for codiscovering genetic mutations that show how cancer cells increase the production of an enzyme that helps cells avoid natural death. These mutations in the genomes of melanoma cells are among the most common found in cancer cells.

Harvard Medicine asked each student to describe what went into his decision to become a scientist and a medical doctor.

Alex Bick

“As MD-PhD students trained at HMS, we have a much better sense of what the interesting questions are.

“I truly love clinical work. If someday I’m the wonderful clinician I hope to be, I will be able to affect the lives of all the patients I see in clinic. That’s a wonderful connection. But I would like to be able to help more than just the patients I care for. I feel that’s where my work as a researcher will become important. Any doctor can repeat and use the results of research. That multiplies its impact and benefits many more patients than just my own.”

Alex Bick and Eran Hodis
Alex Bick and Eran Hodis

Eran Hodis

“Before I moved back to Boston to be near a family member who had been diagnosed with cancer, I was interested in pursuing a PhD in science. There were two aspects of doing science that interested me. The first was to understand how the world works. The second was to do research that could have an impact on the world and possibly could lead to applications that would help cure or ameliorate disease.

“I knew I was interested in working on research that could eventually touch the lives of patients, but wondered whether I also wanted to work in medicine. I suddenly realized that both were okay; I could pursue research and take care of patients.

Within the scientific community, we aspire to inspire others. If in the future I’m fortunate enough to run my own lab and to have my own students, I’ll be able to impart to them how to be a scientist in the hope that they will go on to make some important discovery that will help others.”

Photo: John Soares