Thursday, January 10, 2013

Celebrating a Life That May Have Saved Your Life

I'm going to take a break from my regularly scheduled ramblings to tell you about this guy who used to work in my building.

Some of ya'll may know that I'm a science geek by day.  I work in a lab, merrily surfing writing blogs between experiments. I've never discovered anything big, but I keep trying. Maybe I'll get to work on something that will help someone someday...but that's not what this is about.

When I came to work in my current lab, there was this nice old man who had an office on the third floor. He drove around on a little scooter and smiled and greeted me every time I saw him. One day I noticed a poster with his picture on it, hanging on the wall.  One of those "Go to UC, We're Great" kind of promotional things. 

Turns out this nice old man, Dr. Elwood Jensen, had just won the Lasker Award.  Huh?  Well, it's the American version of the Nobel Prize for medicine. 

A while back, Dr. Jensen discovered the estrogen receptor.  You know, the one that people refer to when they get breast cancer.  Used to be, if you had breast cancer, they automatically removed your ovaries, and anything else that might produce estrogen, because estrogen makes some types of cancer grow faster.  But then Dr. Jensen found this molecule, the Estrogen Receptor... and now, when someone gets breast cancer, one of the first things they do is find out if it's HER+ or HER-.  If it's HER+, they treat you with Tamoxifen, or some other variety of estrogen receptor blocker.  And they don't automatically have to remove your ovaries.  And you have a much better chance of wearing pink for a much longer time.

So.  There you go.  If you, or someone you know, has had HER+ breast cancer, you might want to stop a minute and send some good thoughts to the Jensen family, because Elwood died recently.  He was 92, and was a nice old man. 


  1. Wow. I love to hear about impressive people who are also, yannoh, nice. Restores my faith in humanity. Thanks for telling us about Elwood. :)

  2. Wow! I'm with Linda. Verrrrry cool. Also, I didn't realize 'til now just how much smarter than me you were. You still like me, yes? ;)

  3. No, Jessica, I just wasted more years in college, procrastinating about getting a real job.