That course had a huge impact on my career. Most recently Ronald sold 10,000 units of AVEO stock worth $165,400 on 10 May 2011.. He lived in a basement apartment and would watch the young men go to school with their white shirts and ties. We bring different things to the equation. One of my students in the class was a first-year medical student—she and I quickly became friends. He was on the front lines on the Amalfi Coast in Italy—he was one of the few in his company to come back alive, now as a US citizen. He earned a bachelor's degree in biological sciences in 1977 from Fordham University, where he graduated summa cum laude as class salutatorian. I loved going back and forth between science and art during corresponding periods of history. What is it about the game and the team that captivates you? That's why you founded the Belfer Institute at Dana Farber. He completed an internship and residency in internal medicine at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, followed by postdoctoral fellowships in the Department of Cell Biology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center. I've remained head over heels in love with her since. I was very interested, having done Western sports, in doing something that involved both mind and body. So I took a very strong translational turn in my career and asked whether I could take the systems that we had developed or the knowledge that I had to better achieve clinical end points, not just great papers. I guess word of mouth. In the mid 1980s, Ronald DePinho made a career-defining decision. The current relay race—of academic discovery, biotech proof of concept, and pharma commercialization—has given us a 95% failure rate. But for me, it was also that I did it with my dad. They're based on a philosophy of humility, respect, courtesy, discipline, courage—attributes that enable people to focus on what really matters. They'd always fascinated me. It's that back and forth between mental and physical activity that really enables each to achieve a higher level. The goal of martial arts is to make a better social being, a more balanced human being. When did your interest in art develop? Besides da Vinci, did you have any favorite artists, styles, or time periods? Because no high-profile publication has ever cured a patient. That is very similar to what goes on in science. Normal cells do just fine. He was a very deeply religious man. The approach is providing opportunities to impact on a lot of different cancers. It's there that his dream for you took root? We had a reputation at that point of being a pretty good mouse-engineering lab, but also we had the ability, again probably because of my physician BACKGROUND, to analyze the phenotypes of a mouse. Some of those were based on good science. One of the wonderful things about our relationship is that we care more about the other person than we care about ourselves. Were you ever tempted to go off into art? At that point, he devoted his life to identifying others in need around the world. DePinho assumed the presidency at MD Anderson on Sept. 1, 2011. Maybe it was because I was a physician and I had a more global view of physiology, of pathophysiology, that I felt it would be more complex than a single gene causing a particular disease. Then when you do come up with unanticipated observations, as opposed to fulfilled prophecies, you have the opportunity to break new ground and bring the field into a new conceptual space. The idea, which was developed by Michael Kauffman and Sharon Shacham, is that when you inhibit nuclear export, you keep cancer cells from expelling tumor suppressor proteins from the nucleus, which is where they exert their activities. When you reach a certain point in your training in martial arts, usually around second-degree black belt, your role then becomes that of a teacher, and you learn by teaching others. He established the concept of tumor maintenance, discovered a core pathway of aging and demonstrated that aging is a reversible process. I think that contributes to the 19 out of 20 failures. All I can remember is his massive frame, blue eyes, and number 7. I'm wondering how this applies to you as a practicing scientist. His contributions include ground-breaking scientific studies, educating the next generation of physicians and scientists, promoting public health through advocacy and policy, and launching biopharmaceutical companies to introduce new drugs. DNA technology, the ability to manipulate the genetic makeup of living organisms—it was a major turning point in science. Cancer cells don't do well when you do that. Exactly. I joined his school within a few months of the school being founded. It was an exciting moment for humanity and just an example of putting one's will, determination, and talent to a problem in a very goal-oriented way to achieve something that is much greater than one could possibly imagine. Eventually, when I was 5, we moved to Yonkers, and my asthma went away instantly. I think it's a matter of being well organized so that when you spend time with your children, you're really with them. It's not unlike a sculptor looking at a block of rock and seeing beyond the rock, seeing the figure that may eventually emerge and be born from that vision, yet working with the rock to reveal the truth of its potential. They took the time to explain to me how an experiment should be designed, how one interprets data, how one presents data, how to write a paper, how to write a grant. He spoke with me from his office. I loved baseball like most boys growing up and played a lot of stickball. What we learned is that if you are an aspiring cancer cell and you have telomere dysfunction—you don't have telomerase—and if you then inactivate p53 and allow double-strand breaks to occur and survive, then that engenders a genome instability state that actually propels the would-be cancer cell toward a threshold of changes for malignancy. One in particular became very important to you. Apparently, she started spending time in the lab because you were there almost around the clock and that was really the only way the two of you could be together. I began to learn more about some of the great structures, like Il Duomo in Florence. Misia Landau, An Interview with Ronald DePinho, Clinical Chemistry, Volume 59, Issue 1, 1 January 2013, Pages 11–17, https://doi.org/10.1373/clinchem.2012.184911. I grew up near Mosholu Parkway in a fairly low–income situation. What he rendered on the Sistine Chapel is just a remarkable feat of human genius. You were coming of age during the 1960s, a time of big cultural change—the civil rights movement, free love, feminism, student protests. The two attributes—creativity but also that kind of engineering mentality—are enabling us to bring a discovery down the field further. I realized that if I really wanted to study the process of developmental oncobiology, I really needed to do that in vivo, that it would be unlikely that there would be a recapitulation of those processes in cell culture. He turned out to be one of the best martial artists in the world and was an exceptional teacher. That really is the art in martial arts. There, he was founding director of the Belfer Institute for Applied Cancer Science at Dana-Farber and was a professor in the Department of Medicine (genetics) at Harvard and an American Cancer Society Research Professor. This was before we had any measure of success. Fortunately, my grandmother grew up in a home where she was educated. Ronald Depinho, Director at AVEO Pharma (AVEO), is currently unranked, see this insider's latest transactions. There was one family from Angola, a working class family with a grocery store. At Dana-Farber and Harvard, DePinho guided major basic-translational research programs focused on brain, colorectal, pancreatic and prostate cancers. Now, one is a PhD psychologist, another a dentist, another an artist. All of those things, I think, help. https://faculty.mdanderson.org/profiles/ronald_depinho.html There's just a natural affinity, I think, between the two. Highlights from his work in mouse models of cancer includes the generation of CDKN2A knockout mice, providing proof of the tumor suppressor function of this gene, now known to be critical in diverse cancers, most prominently GBM and mesothelioma. 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