Mobile version
spiked plus
About spiked
What is spiked?
Support spiked
spiked shop
Contact us
Summer school
Top issues
Arab uprisings
British politics
Child abuse panic
For Europe, Against the EU
Free speech
Jimmy Savile scandal
Parents and kids
View all issues...
special feature
The Counter-Leveson Inquiry
other sections
 Review of Books
 Monthly archive
selected authors
Duleep Allirajah
Daniel Ben-Ami
Tim Black
Jennie Bristow
Sean Collins
Dr Michael Fitzpatrick
Frank Furedi
Helene Guldberg
Patrick Hayes
Mick Hume
Rob Lyons
Brendan O’Neill
Nathalie Rothschild
James Woudhuysen
more authors...
RSS feed

abc def ghi jkl mno pqrs tuv wxyz index
Survey home
First thoughts
Final thoughts
Survey responses
RSS feed
Michael Baum
Gustav Born
K Eric Drexler
Marcus du Sautoy
Harold Kroto
Paul Lauterbur
Leon Lederman
Bernard Lovell
Sophie Petit-Zeman
Ingo Potrykus
Jack Pridham
Simon Singh
Jack Steinberger
Dr Harold Gainer
senior investigator and chief of the laboratory of neurochemistry at the Molecular Neuroscience Section at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

I grew up in New York City, in an immigrant, working-class family. Nobody in my family or my neighbourhood was knowledgeable or particularly interested in science. From an early age, I had a general interest in knowing how things worked, but I was more attracted to art, philosophy and social issues than to science.

I attended a public high school that focused on science, Peter Stuyvesant High School, and I was positively influenced by a biology teacher there. I then attended a free college in New York City – the City College of New York, later to become part of the City University of New York – where I majored in chemistry, which I found interesting but far from an inspiration. The City College of New York was known for producing outstanding professional scientists, but there was no research done on campus by its faculty, that might indicate to students that science could lead to a potential career and also be fun.

My first real attraction to science came when I entered graduate school at the University of California in Berkeley. There, several faculty members and student peers caused me to realise that science provided an approach to answering mind/body questions that intrigued me at the time, that science could be a career, and that science could be fun to do.

However, it was not until I did postdoctoral work in the laboratory of a distinguished neurophysiologist – Harry Grundfest at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons – that I first really learned how to do scientific research, to thoroughly enjoy it, and to observe its international nature. In short, my journey to discover the nature of science, and to love doing it, involved a slow evolution rather than a sudden passion.

Harold Gainer is editor of Peptides In Neurobiology (buy this book from Amazon (USA)).