James E. Rothman, one of this year’s Nobel laureates in Fysiology or Medicine, was interviewed by Adam Smith yesterday after the Nobel Proze winners were announced.
What was interesting in the short interview was the answer Rothman gave to the question on courgage. What gave him the courage to study the the complexities of cell machinery, especially when the initial experiments indicated that it might not work at all.
…my courage came from three sources I would say. The first, in all seriousness, was youth. Because there’s a certain arrogance in youth, I don’t if I’d have had the courage to do that today. The second was the fact that, you could in those days, in the United States you could do adventurous things with very little, no more preliminary data, and you can still get support from the NIH to do it. And so in today’s environment I doubt very much I would have had the freedom or the opportunity to truly pursue this. And the third, frankly, was that I was inspired by a man named Arthur Kornberg…
Reason number 2 brings up a question which research will be awarded the Nobel Prize in 30 years time when thinking about which research is financed today. Research done today must fulfill entirely different things than research which was conducted for 30 years ago.
Listen to the interview. Approx. 7 minutes.