Engineering Better Health
Sitting Down With… Julian Solway MD, Walter L. Palmer Distinguished Service Professor - Medicine and Pediatrics, Director - Institute for Translational Medicine, Dean for Translational Medicine, University of Chicago, USA.
What made you decide to go into medicine?
Originally, I went to MIT to study electrical engineering and was fascinated by the then-new field of biomedical engineering. It became obvious to me that training as a physician would allow me a more insightful perspective for research and development, and of course studying medicine was attractive in its own right.
I entered medical school in the Harvard–MIT joint program in Health Sciences and Technology. There was a very strong focus on engineering and physical science principles in medicine, with many engineers on the faculty. It was a wonderful multi-disciplinary approach to learning about disease.
Once I started to see patients, I discovered another great passion – clinical medicine. I enjoy meeting, getting to know, and helping people. So rather than pursuing a PhD in electrical engineering, I became a medical resident, and then a fellow at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where my clinical focus was on pulmonary and critical care medicine. However, I wanted to move closer to my family – including my dear twin sister – in Chicago. A wonderful opportunity came up at the University of Chicago in 1985, and I have been here ever since. It’s a fantastic environment and a wonderful place to make one’s career.
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