Charles Sherr on Communication Skills in Science
  Charles Sherr     Biography    
Recorded: 15 Jun 2002

…Key skills are oral presentation and writing. You can be a terrific scientist; if you can’t write up your data, you know, you are in really serious trouble. You have to be able to communicate what you’ve done to other people. Private science is of no value, you know. It is not done like Archimedes in the bathtub. The soap floats, you say, “Eureka!” and that’s a great discovery. That’s not how science is done. That is not a paradigm. I mean you have to able to not only achieve something based on experiments in your own laboratory, but then you have to communicate to other people why you believe that those experiments are important. So you need to publish, ideally in the best journal that you can hope for. You need to be self-critical so that you’re not unrealistic. You need to get your best stuff published in the best possible place. And you need to explain to people why you think it’s right. And the more interesting the work, the more controversial it will be, so the more these skills become critical. You know, it really is important to read and write, more than just do experiments.

Charles Sherr earned his joint M.D./Ph.D. degree from New York University in 1973. He is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator based at the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN. His work focuses on retroviral oncogenes, growth factors and their receptors, and cell cycle control. In 1991, Sherr's laboratory discovered the mammalian D-type G1 cyclins and went on to identify the cyclin-dependent kinases with which they associate, as well as a series of polypeptide inhibitors that negatively regulate their activities.

Sherr is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, has won numerous awards and is the author of more than 235 scientific articles. He joined the National Cancer Institute in 1973, becoming a member of the NIH staff in 1975 and head of the viral pathology section, Division of Cancer Cause and Prevention, in 1977. In 1983, he relocated to St. Jude. Sherr is also a member of the Board of Trustees of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

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