Meeting Dr. Lee Hartwell on the Hope Tour at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center was a time that filled me with hope! I won’t ever forget thinking about how much time and how much hard work this incredible man has put into his life work. I will always be inspired– for the rest of my life– from my gift of time with him.
From Wikepedia…“Leland Harrison (Lee) Hartwell (born October 30, 1939, in Los Angeles, California) is former president and director of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington. He shared the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Paul Nurse and R. Timothy Hunt, for their discoveries of protein molecules that control the division (duplication) of cells.
When cells with nuclei divide, they divide in phases called G1 (growth), S (synthesis), G2 (growth), and M (mitosis). Nurse, Hartwell and Hunt together discovered two proteins, cyclin and CDK (cyclin dependent kinase), that control the transition from one stage to another. These proteins are called checkpoints, because they check whether the cell has divided properly. If the cell doesn’t divide correctly, other proteins will attempt to repair it, and if unsuccessful, they will destroy the cell. If a cell divides incorrectly and survives, it can cause cancer and other serious diseases.
Working in yeast, Hartwell identified the fundamental role of checkpoints in cell cycle control, and CDC genes such as CDC28, which controls the start of the cycle — the progression through G1.“
Time with Dr. Lee Hartwell–
It was no everyday conversation… it used common words in an uncommon way. I sat across the small conference table from Dr. Lee Hartwell. His humble demeanor and heartfelt warmth somewhat disguised the fact that he is an extremely highly respected researcher and Nobel Laureate. However, his brilliance and deep, careful thoughts revealed just why he is so highly noted. He is a man whose gentle, yet strong, presence I felt from the moment he walked through the sliding doors at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. It was in a small conference room where I received the honor of talking with him for about 45 minutes.
I was in awe to be speaking with a man of such wisdom, humility, and yes, grace. Starting off with genuine words about my book, Dr. Hartwell explained how much it meant to him and how it had impacted his current thinking. Wow….to influence someone of the caliber at which he thinks is truly a remarkable privilege. After a short time, the conversation shifted. I couldn’t resist asking him about his research, which I had read about in detail the night prior. I was curious about what the accomplishments in his studies meant to him personally. I was enlightened and inspired by his reply. He talked about the joy of “getting lost in the woods”…that is, the journey of his life and research as opposed to an end goal.
I thought of my cancer journey, my future, and it all clicked. The joy of traveling, not reaching….the joy of discovering, not knowing….the joy of wandering in the “woods” and loving every second of it. I left that room spiritually encouraged, excited, and inspired. I will have Dr. Hartwell’s tender, wise words with me always.