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July Research Spotlight on Alemayehu Gorfe, Ph.D.

A.Gorfe largeTell us about your current career position.
I am an Assistant Professor of Integrative Biology and Pharmacology at the School of Biomedical Informatics at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, Texas.

What are the key experiences and decisions you made that have helped you reach your current position?
My work on computer simulation of Ras proteins was a project I started as a postdoc at the University of California, San Diego with Professor J. Andrew McCammon. I continue to work on Ras proteins, a fascinating group of enzymes that have diverse roles in health and disease. They are small (186 aa) size and are computationally tractable, abundant data for benchmarking. They make for fascinating biology and biophysics and are notoriously difficult drug targets.

How did you first become interested in science?
My interest in science grew from the love I developed for chemistry in high school, thanks to a great teacher.

Were there times when you failed at something you felt was critical to your path?  If so, how did you regroup and get back on track?
Yes, several times, including a tough funding situation just after I started my faculty position. I got back on track through a combination of sheer determination, encouragement from colleagues, and the love of my two wonderful kids.

What advice would you give to young persons from under-represented backgrounds who want to pursue a career in science similar to yours?
I would just share what my father used to tell me: “come what may, never give up.”

What are your hobbies?
Reading – especially history and historical novels.

What was the last book you read?
“Cutting For Stone”

Do you have any heroes, heroines, or role models? If so, describe how they have influenced you?
That would be my father. He had only a rudimentary education, but he was a deep thinker and a scientist in the way he approached challenges: methodical, systematic, and patient. He was responsible for everything I have achieved, and he is my source of inspiration.

What is it that keeps you working hard and studying science every day?
To one-day crack the code that would enable us to develop therapy against aberrant function of Ras proteins.

 

For more information about Dr. Gorfe or to contact him, go to:
http://ibp.med.uth.tmc.edu/faculty/bio-Abebe-Alemayehu.html