The rollicking memoir from the cardiologist turned legendary scientist and winner of the Nobel Prize that revels in the joy of science and discovery.
Like Richard Feynman in the field of physics, Dr. Robert Lefkowitz is also known for being a larger-than-life character: a not-immodest, often self-deprecating, always entertaining raconteur. Indeed, when he received the Nobel Prize, the press corps in Sweden covered him intensively, describing him as “the happiest Laureate.”
In addition to his time as a physician, from being a "yellow beret" in the public health corps with Dr. Anthony Fauci to his time as a cardiologist, and his extraordinary transition to biochemistry, which would lead to his Nobel Prize win, Dr. Lefkowitz has ignited passion and curiosity as a fabled mentor and teacher.
But it's all in a days work, as Lefkowitz reveals in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Stockholm, which is filled to the brim with anecdotes and energy, and gives us a glimpse into the life of one of today's leading scientists.
Physician and biochemist Lefkowitz debuts with a spirited account of his path from growing up in the Bronx in the 1950s to winning the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2012. A self-described "accidental scientist," Lefkowitz was inspired to study medicine at age 12 when his father suffered a heart attack; by age 19, he had graduated from college and begun medical school. Lefkowitz recounts a pivotal lesson he learned in his third-year "Data are just data. A story is something you impose on the data" and how it came to inform the way he practiced medicine: closely listening to his patients' stories became his hallmark. After medical school, Lefkowitz joined the faculty at Duke, where he mentored Brian Kobilka; their work on DNA proteins won them the Nobel Prize. He and Kobilka were "treated like rock stars" during the weeklong Nobel celebration, of which he notes:"There is nothing in the United States that compares to the Nobel Day events in Sweden." Though the narrative gets occasionally bogged down in scientific terminology, this vivid tale mostly shines with personality. Rarely has science been treated with such a winning blend of humor and humanity.