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Tools & Techniques Cardiovascular, Omics

Lessons I’ve Learned, With Jenny Van Eyk

There is much we don’t know

I was born in Northern Ontario, Canada and went to a small high school. There were just three students in my advanced calculus class and hardly anyone went to university, but I got a place studying chemistry at the University of Waterloo. For a long time, I thought that you went to university simply to study the traditional subjects – I didn’t even know that you could become a researcher or engineer. In my first year, I was taking chemistry courses and, as I’d expected, the things we were learning had been known for hundreds of years. Then one day I took a biology course, during which the professor told us about the newly published fluid mosaic model for lipid membranes. He said “we think this is right, but we don’t know for sure.” I was amazed – it hadn’t occurred to me that there were things even professors didn’t know, and that I might be able to add to our collective knowledge. I switched my course to biochemistry and fell in love with discovery.

The power of peptides

I took some persuading to embark on my PhD. I was happy working as a technician in a great lab, publishing papers, and I didn’t want anything to get in the way of my science. But my PhD in peptide chemistry (with Bob Hodges at University of Alberta) allowed me to publish my first landmark paper; I created a synthetic peptide made up of just 12 amino acids that could replace cardiac troponin I (cTnI) in the muscle contractile apparatus.

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About the Author

Jennifer Van Eyk

Jennifer Van Eyk is Director of the Advanced Clinical Biosystems Research Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA, USA.

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