The educational background of the other Genome scientist

Practicing medicine at the orphanage was one of the highlights of my time in Vietnam. I found that basic hygiene and soap could often do as much to improve the quality of life for many as advanced drugs… Using my knowledge to do a little good in the midst of much death and misery, I became convinced of the direction my life should take. If I made it back home and could get into a university and then into a medical school, I would practice medicine in the developing world. But sitting outside of Da Nang in 1968, after barely graduationg from high school four years earlier, the very acts of surviving the war and going home seemed distant, let alone attending a university. (p. 41)

My grades were so dismal that they threatened to sabotage not only my eligibility for the swim team but my graduation. Fortunately, I wrote a glowing paper about the presidential bid of the extreme Republican Barry Goldwater, whose slogan was “In your heart, you know he’s right.” The teacher who marked my paper seemed to be a Goldwater conservative and was sufficiently impressed to give me a D minus instead of an F, which would have ended my chance of graduating. (p. 17)

I think that one reason I was able to become a successful scientist was that my natural curiosity was not driven out of me by the educational system. (p. 7)

SEE ALSO: Mark Horne » Blog Archive » The education background of one person of note.

2 thoughts on “The educational background of the other Genome scientist

  1. pentamom

    Fascinating. I wonder if this kind of “alternative educational path” (both Collins and Venter) is even possible in today’s world, though, where you can’t get anywhere near anyone who will teach you what these guys needed to know to do their work, without credentials, credentials, credentials. It’s good the flexibility was still there 30-40 years ago.

  2. Mark

    Probably not, but I think that is another “bubble” that will eventually pop. So it is good to remember that life worked without that artificial “ladder” (actually, gate).


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