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Lily Jan(叶公杼), Yuh nung Jan(詹裕农)成功故事的背后

时间:2007-04-21 08:14来源:水木清华站 作者:admin 阅读:
据说有一个JHU的韩国学生问Lily Jan是如何与她的lg Yuh nung Jan都能同时在
生物学领域取得如此巨大的成就,以及他们如何处理家庭生活与工作的关系,
Lily Jan就指引她去看这篇文章。
 
这篇文章讲的是生命科学领域的couples,因为是HHMI的Bulletin,所以讨论对象
主要集中在HHMI的研究员中。其实在HHMI之外还有很多,甚至Jan的徒弟饶毅和吴瑛;
不过这样的情况也有不好的,比如就有couple一个拿到了Rockefeller的职位,
一个拿到了UCSF的职位,一个东海岸,一个西海岸,都不愿意迁就对方,结果只有
分开了事.......
 
全文的PDF连接在这里:
http://www.hhmi.org/bulletin/pdf/dec2002/Couples.pdf  
 
      
The success of such couples isn't just luck. In fact, scientists who manage to
 share both pillows and pipettes generally have certain traits in common: mutu
al respect for each other's work; separate, carefully carved-out research nich
es; more or less equal status and a feeling of shared success. They also have 
uncommonly good marriages. Most think their spouse the smartest person they kn
ow and the person whose opinion matters most. Their mutual delight in the wond
ers of the lab deepens their relationship: Stalking elusive science with someo
ne you love is serious fun. 
 
Take Lily Y. Jan and Yuh Nung Jan, one of several collaborating couples within
 HHMI. The Jans, both HHMI investigators at the University of California, San 
Francisco, have shared a marriage since 1971 and a lab since 1979. Both study 
the nervous system of flies, searching for themes common to other organisms, a
nd most of the time they simply alternate authorship prominence on their publi
cations. Their theory is that when two people work together, the whole of thei
r work is greater than the sum of the two separate parts. "Inevitably you figh
t, and then you figure out how to avoid fighting," says Lily. "But if you trul
y care about a question, you want to find the right way. So you argue until yo
u figure out how to make it work." 
 
But harmony—not argument—seems to dominate the Jans' life. They met as physi
cs students at the National Taiwan University in Taipei and married as graduat
e students in biology at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. T
heir first mentor, the late molecular biologist Max Delbrück, who won the 196
9 Nobel Prize in Medicine, kept their work separate, urging them to tackle pro
blems independently. Still, the pair loved talking science together, the way s
ome people like arguing politics or philosophy. As Lily puts it, "We're both c
urious about the questions the other is addressing. It's just simple curiosity
." 
 
In 1974, when the Jans had to choose partners in a neurobiology course, they c
hose each other, taking advantage of what seemed to them an obvious opportunit
y. In essence, they began sharing fruit flies the way other couples share chin
a and silver. Nothing seemed more natural, says Yuh Nung. "In our case, workin
g together works out very well. She is very patient, and I'm a little the oppo
site. She is capable of focusing on one area and learning everything about it.
 I tend to come out with wild and crazy ideas, and occasionally there is a goo
d one. So with our combination, we can turn some good ideas into useful work."
 
 
As he speaks, Yuh Nung sits at his computer in a small office filled with pile
s of papers—papers written by postdoctoral fellows and graduate students, jou
rnal articles, graduate applications—and a painting of fruit flies done by hi
s daughter, Emily, when she was in high school. (Down the hall, Lily's office 
looks much the same.) Lily looks at him, nodding occasionally. She waits for a
 few seconds until she is certain he has finished speaking and then tackles th
e same question. Yuh Nung and Lily are calm, respectful and complementary to e
ach other. It is easy to imagine them working together.
 
 
 
It's also easy to see that the Jans are not joined at the hip. They have done 
what most successful collaborators do: They have each developed their own area
 of expertise. Yuh Nung focuses on the development of the nervous system, Lily
 on its function. "Then we each have some independence in the lab and in the c
ommunity," explains Lily. The arrangement is practical as well: Yuh Nung goes 
to meetings related to development and Lily to those about function, a divisio
n that proved especially valuable when their daughter, now 25, was small. It w
as during those years that teamwork mattered most. "We basically worked on rai
sing our daughter and collaborating on projects," says Lily, recalling that ea
ch evening Yuh Nung would walk her home so she could relieve her mother, who w
atched Emily (Max, their 17-year-old son was not yet born.). "Then he would go
 back and stay with the prep until 2 a.m. We had to work shifts on the same ex
periments." 
 
Even as the two talk about the tough times, when both kids and petri dishes ne
eded tending, they seem unsurprised, almost unaware that they have accomplishe
d what many spouses would find impossible. "It's the only life we've had," say
s Yuh Nung, shrugging.
 
 
The Jans' collaboration was made easier by their simultaneous entry into scien
ce. Neither was more advanced than the other. Not all couples share that advan
tage, however. When HHMI investigator and cancer biologist Charles J. Sherr me
t Martine F. Roussel, he was running a laboratory at the National Institutes o
f Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland. Roussel, six years his junior, was a Ph.
D. student in cancer biology at Villejuif Hospital in Paris and later at the P
asteur Institute in Lille, France. The two maintained a long-distance relation
ship until 1980, when Roussel went to NIH as a Fogarty Scholar. 
 
At first, Roussel and Sherr merged households but not beakers. "I refused to w
ork with him for three years," says Roussel. "My concern was that I wouldn't g
et credit for what I did. But even though we were in two labs, we spent so muc
h time thinking about science together. It was so clear that we were working t
ogether intellectually. So Chuck said, 'Do experiments with me. At least we wi
ll get something out of it.' And as soon as we started working together, our p
rojects were successful." 
 
Working together was one thing; building careers was another. What Roussel and
 Sherr understood about each other—that they were intellectual equals—wasn't
 as easy for outsiders to grasp, since one scientist was junior to the other a
nd a woman to boot. In 1983, 
 
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, recruited Sherr t
o head its new department in tumor cell biology and added his new wife as a ju
nior faculty member. "There weren't many women scientists then," says Sherr. "
Every time she did something, they would say it was my work. There was an unde
rlying prejudice because she was a woman." 
 
Roussel agrees that her path was a rocky one. "I was an appendage. I was there
 because they wanted Chuck. I didn't like it, but there was not much I could d
o." Sherr was also his wife's department chair, which made decisions about pro
motions and raises tricky at best. "I was the worst paid," says Roussel, "and 
Chuck didn't want to promote me because he didn't want people to think he was 
favoring me." He's still her department chair, but now she reports to someone 
else. 
 
As Sherr puts it, "I was her greatest supporter and her greatest obstacle. Tha
t ambiguity was always there. We've just handled it better than most people." 
 
 
Roussel faced other obstacles as well. She spoke little English when the pair 
met, and writing, whether in English or in French, was never her strong suit. 
While presentations about oncogenes were difficult in French, they were terrif
ying in English. As Roussel struggled to master these professional skills, she
 found that she would soon need to master a new skill, mothering. In 1985, she
 and Sherr had a son, Jonathan, and Roussel took three weeks of maternity leav
e—with unexpected results. Other scientists in the lab had taken over Roussel
's experiments in her absence, so she was forced to develop projects independe
nt of Sherr's. Soon she began to get her own funding, which, in turn, led to p
romotion and independent recognition. 
 
Today, both Sherr and Roussel are full members (the equivalent of full profess
ors) at St. Jude's. Struggle is a verb they use in the past tense, although Ro
ussel notes there is occasionally friction about who gets credit for what. "We
 have tough discussions. In science, you have to discuss every fact, and the f
acts have to be right, and so you apply this to your relationship as well. You
 learn how to speak up, to say what you think, even if it's not pleasant. But 
two strong people cannot be at the top simultaneously all the time. You have t
o give in at some point." 
 
Sherr tells a revealing story. Roussel, a gardener, wanted a computerized wate
ring system for their yard in East Memphis. Sherr balked at the expense, the i
nevitable complications. But Roussel persisted. Every day, says Sherr, she'd m
ention how nice a watering system would be. Finally, Sherr agreed to review so
me information, and Roussel called for quotes. Sherr grilled the contractors a
nd settled on a system just high-tech enough to interest him. Suddenly he was 
a kid with a new toy, and she had a blossoming garden. With gardens or shared 
careers, "each person has to get something," says Roussel.
 
 
     
 
Martine Roussel has worked hard to step out of husband Charles Sherr's shadow.
 
   
 
Not all married scientists choose to cultivate their garden together, or at le
ast not the same patch. HHMI investigators Eric Wieschaus and Trudi Schüpbach
, both molecular biologists at Princeton University, have drawn firmer lines b
etween their careers than either the Jans or Sherr and Roussel. Wieschaus and 
Schüpbach met in Zurich in 1975, as Schüpbach was completing graduate work a
nd Wieschaus a postdoctoral fellowship. Initially, they published a few papers
 together, but when they arrived at Princeton in 1981, he as an assistant prof
essor and she as a nontenured research biologist, they set out on different re
search paths. Wieschaus studied embryo development in flies, and Schüpbach st
udied oogenesis, or what happens in mother flies as eggs form. 
 
"The lines were pretty clear between our research programs early on," says Wie
schaus. "We had to keep them distinct initially, in part because she didn't ha
ve a professorship. It would not have been good for her to be seen as just ano
ther member of my group." 
 
By the mid-1980s, Schüpbach had funding for her own laboratory, and, as their
 professional identities became more distinct, they began to tiptoe back toget
her. Now Wieschaus' lab is on the same floor as Schüpbach's; they hold joint 
lab meetings, and postdoctoral students float between the labs to exchange ide
as and information. "We confer on each other's projects," says Sch焢bach. "Tha
t's one of the pleasures of being in the same field. You can share little dail
y triumphs—like when something works or when someone finds something out. And
 you can share your depression when the experiments didn't work—for the fifth
 time." 
 
When people have their own successes, they can gracefully share huge triumphs 
too, as Schüpbach did when Wieschaus won the 1995 Nobel Prize in Physiology o
r Medicine. "I knew how important the work was, so it was really gratifying to
 see it honored in that way," says Schüpbach. "A lot of people working with f
lies were very happy. It validated the work we're doing. And I've never felt t
hat I was toiling away, with no one noticing what I do. But I can imagine that
 if one were working very hard and no one was saying anything, it would be har
der." 
 
Both Schüpbach and Wieschaus are quick to acknowledge their ambitions. Knowin
g what it takes to cross a scientific border helps them to accept each other's
 long hours in the lab and to share household tasks. Most days, Wieschaus ride
s home from the lab on his bicycle, thinking about what he'll cook for dinner,
 while Schüpbach helps their 17-year-old daughter, Laura, with homework. Wies
chaus likes to cook, mostly because he knows the work will result in success—
a prediction less certain in a lab. 
 
When their three daughters (Ingrid, 27; Eleanor, 20 and Laura) were young, how
ever, dreamy bike rides were a luxury. "There was a lot of pressure on our tim
e trying to bring up the children, do the housework," says Schüpbach. "It was
 really important that both partners equally respected each other's work so th
at each one would take on these other responsibilities. I never felt that Eric
 saw his work as more important than mine. When our children were sick, for in
stance, we would check with each other about who was doing what and who could 
take off work. In science, in the middle of an experiment, you have to be ther
e or lose a lot of work." 
 
Being there, being supportive, being forthright—these themes surface again an
d again as couples dissect their collaborations. The point is, good marriages 
make better science. The 19th-century Spanish scientist Santiago Ramón y Caja
l put it slightly differently. The perfect spouse for a scientist can be "the 
helium that propels him skyward," he wrote in his 1897 book Advice for a Young
 Investigator. "And if fame should smile, its brilliance will surround the two
 foreheads with a single halo." 
 
Download this story in Acrobat PDF format. 
(requires Acrobat Reader) 
 
Photos: Steve Jones, David Graham
 
Reprinted from the HHMI Bulletin, 
December 2002, pages 18-21.
©2002 Howard Hughes Medical Institute  (责任编辑:泉水)
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