Member Spotlight: Brian Lewis, PhD


University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School

How long have you worked in the cell biology field?
31 years

What is your field of research?
Cancer cell biology

What initially got you interested in becoming a scientist and then later specifically your field of research?
My high school biology teacher is the person who really got me thinking that science is cool. I grew up in Jamaica, and the schools there are under-resourced, so our teachers had to be creative, particularly about laboratory exercises. Mrs. Robb was an extremely stimulating teacher who had an infectious enthusiasm for the marvels of biology and living organisms. This was also fairly early in the HIV-AIDS epidemic, and I thought that if I was a scientist I could help us better understand the next epidemic, whatever it might be. My lab’s primary focus in on pancreatic cancer. I was drawn to studying this disease at the start of my postdoctoral training because the prognosis for pancreatic cancer patients was very poor, and because we understood very little about the biology of the disease we were not in a position to alter patient prognosis.

Do you volunteer with ASCB and if so, what is your role and why do you think it’s important to volunteer with the association?
I do not currently volunteer with the ASCB. However, I previously served two terms as a member of the Minorities Affairs Committee. I also volunteered on the Nominations Committee, the Membership Committee and the Awards Review Task Force. As with any organization, professional societies such as the ASCB thrive when there is active engagement by a broader spectrum of the membership who bring a diversity of experiences and perspectives. By volunteering, we ensuring that the organization remains vibrant and current, and we also help to shape it into the organization that we aspire for it to be.

What are you most optimistic about when it comes to the future of science?
I am most optimistic about the talented scientists – both trainees as well as early career scientists in academia and industry. I am awed at their talent. Perhaps more importantly, I appreciate their perspectives that value, and push for, more inclusive work spaces and training environments. This shift will allow us to recruit even greater talent, diverse talent, into our fields. As this shift unfolds, we will not only be able to support the excellence of everyone who has a passion for science, but our science will be enhanced.

About the Author:

This post was collaboratively written by several ASCB staff members.