Chanock Explores Genetics of Cancer Susceptibility
, by Dana Talesnik
Great teachers inspire as they impart wisdom. Such was the case during a recent Clinical Center Grand Rounds Great Teachers lecture by NCI's Stephen J. Chanock, M.D., who managed to fit his professional journey, career advice, a history lesson and decades of research into a captivating hour.
“Trust your instincts and follow your interests, wherever they take you,” advised Chanock, who called his professional path a tale of two long woods. He began his NCI career 30 years ago, though his connection to NIH started much earlier.
Chanock grew up on Longwood Drive near the Bethesda campus and fondly recalls visiting NIH with his father, who worked at NIAID. “Bldg. 7…was a standard Saturday morning playground for me as a young child,” he said.
Initially, Chanock didn’t plan to study medicine. His interests first took him to study music in college. But then he wound up on Longwood Ave., in Boston, Mass., studying medicine at Harvard.
His professional career would also take a turn. Chanock arrived at NIH in 1991 to study oncology and infectious diseases but his interests pivoted by 2000 as genomics research gained momentum. Mentors had told him to pursue the interesting questions, which for him turned out to be, not the section where he was a tenured investigator, but the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, where he is currently the director.