Like most people, I’m a collector of stories. I love to hear them. I love to tell them. And, my wife would say, I love to embellish them.
Last week, on my way to work, I heard a good one.
According to the folks at National Public Radio (NPR), “the Nobel Prize in chemistry was being awarded to three scientists working in the United States with a jellyfish protein that glows in the dark. But the scientist who found the gene for that protein, and gave it to the eventual winners, was no longer working in the field. He now drives a shuttle bus for an auto dealership.”
You talk about a hook. They had me.
The story went on to tell how Douglas Prasher, a scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts, isolated the gene, and gave it to two of the eventual Nobel Prize winners, who took the gene and ran with it, “advancing our understanding of the inner working of cells by using the jellyfish protein to tag the tiny, intricate parts.”
For their efforts, they will receive over half a million dollars each. Prasher’s reward? He saw his funding dry up and his career in science end, or at least stall.
Despite this rapid change of fortune, NPR relates that Prasher “doesn’t have any regrets about giving the gene away.”
In fact, NPR notes Prasher has only one request: “If they’re ever in Hunstville, they need to take me out to dinner.”
You can’t help but wonder where Prasher’s story will go next. Will his unselfish act and the resulting breakthroughs reopen a door he thought was shut? If so, will he return to science as a conquering hero? Or, has he discovered a different path for his life? Will he stay out of science forever, content with the contribution he’s already made?
It’s anybody’s guess, and my guess is we’ll never know. And that’s OK. I’m better for having heard the story. It reminds me never to give up. It reminds to share and play nice. It reminds me that the best-laid plans are just that … plans that may or may not bear fruit.
But, most of all, it reminds me why I love publishing PRB magazine–for all the good stories.
Hopefully, you will enjoy the stories we’ve collected this month as much as we enjoyed preparing them. As always, if there’s something different you would like us to explore, or if you have some feedback, please give me a call, drop me a note, or send me an e-mail.
I’m always here, looking for the next great story.
Till next month …
Rodney J. Auth