A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Stockholm: The Adrenaline-Fueled Adventures of an Accidental Scientist

Robert J. Lefkowitz, with Randy Hall. Pegasus, $27.95 (336p) ISBN 978-1-64313-638-7
Physician and biochemist Lefkowitz debuts with a spirited account of his path from growing up in the Bronx in the 1950s to winning the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2012. A self-described “accidental scientist,” Lefkowitz was inspired to study medicine at age 12 when his father suffered a heart attack; by age 19, he had graduated from college and begun medical school. Lefkowitz recounts a pivotal lesson he learned in his third-year—“Data are just data. A story is something you impose on the data”—and how it came to inform the way he practiced medicine: closely listening to his patients’ stories became his hallmark. After medical school, Lefkowitz joined the faculty at Duke, where he mentored Brian Kobilka; their work on DNA proteins won them the Nobel Prize. He and Kobilka were “treated like rock stars” during the weeklong Nobel celebration, of which he notes:“There is nothing in the United States that compares to the Nobel Day events in Sweden.” Though the narrative gets occasionally bogged down in scientific terminology, this vivid tale mostly shines with personality. Rarely has science been treated with such a winning blend of humor and humanity. (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 11/20/2020
Release date: 02/01/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
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