“Do you want to study molecules or do you want to help people?” This was the question Sharon Campbell’s grandfather, Morris Schwartz, MD, asked her when she told him she wanted to become a scientist. It was a loaded question, a last ditch effort to convince his granddaughter to take over his medical practice in upstate New York.
“He was a really respected, old-fashioned kind of general practitioner, the kind of doctor who would visit patients at their homes and accept eggs as payment,” says Campbell, a professor of biochemistry and biophysics in the UNC School of Medicine. “He was just an amazing guy. He wanted one of us to take care of the people he’d taken care of for so many years.”
But every single grandkid chose a different path. Campbell’s led her to UNC where she has become an internationally recognized expert on Ras, a protein that plays a major role in many cancers but has eluded researchers as a viable target for therapies.