This semester, a small group of students took a “priceless journey” into Science and Medicine. They were accompanied by an experienced guide: Nobel Laureate Ferid Murad. Murad, who established a lab at GW earlier this semester, brought in many guest lecturers to provide a unique classroom experience. Many of the guests were Nobel Prize winners themselves.
“Science and Medicine: a Priceless Journey” which has only 16 students, focuses on biomedical advances in the 20th century. The University Honors Program class was cross-listed with the Biochemistry department; about half the students came from each department. Pulling from current events, technological advances and medical discoveries, Murad demonstrated the relationship between science and the real world. The prestigious course requires at least a year of Biological Science or AP equivalent.
Andrea Lehn, a sophomore in the University Honors Program, said the course changed her perspective on the sciences. “Every Monday morning for two hours I would sit, awe-struck, just trying to absorb the wealth of information that was being given to me so freely,” said Lehn. “The lecturers included department chairs, distinguished professors, and even other noble laureates, men and women who were just pouring their hearts out to us. I’d never heard someone ‘pour their heart out’ into a highly scientific lecture, but these researchers blew me away with their passion and dedication to their projects.”
The University Honors Program aims to provide rigorous, interdisciplinary courses on unique topics. This class fulfills those aims, and offers a wide swath of perspectives on the topic. Most of all, the course encourages thinking big and working hard in the sciences. “In the words of Dr. Murad, ‘there’s no part time’ in research, but that isn’t because a supervisor is breathing down your neck; rather, it is because you want to work on the weekends, and unlike most people you can’t wait for Monday morning so you can get back in the lab,” said Lehn.
Murad received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1998 for developing an understanding of the impact of nitric acid in the cardiovascular system. This life-saving work changed heart attack treatment options and continues to impact research into cancer and arthritis to this day. For these important strides in biochemistry, Murad has also received the Albert and Mary Lasker Basic Medical Research Award, the American Heart Association Ciba Award, and the Baxter Award for Distinguished Research in the Biomedical Sciences from the Association of American Medical Colleges.
As a Professor at GW, Murad will continue his vital research. He has opened a lab and will mentor graduate students in their research. Murad has years of experience on college campuses, and promises a challenging and rewarding classroom experience. In a previous interview in GW Today, Murad commented “I think I have something to offer young people that gets them excited about medicine. I love research. I love to answer tough questions. I love to figure out how this information can be beneficial in clinical medicine to treat people.”