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Von Eschenbach Lectures Summer Interns

By Elizabeth Saloom

On July 11, jeans, sneakers, T-shirts and even a couple of baseball hats comprised the wardrobe of the crowd in Bldg. 1's Wilson Hall. Only one suit was to be seen — worn by National Cancer Institute director Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach, who gave the annual Director's Lecture to the class of 2002 Cancer Research Training Award (CRTA) interns.

"How many of you have ever been to Los Alamos?" he asked. Several hands went up. Von Eschenbach talked about Los Alamos in the context of moments of "strategic inflection," a concept he attributed to Andrew S. Grove. In his book, Only the Paranoid Survive, Grove discusses strategic inflection, which he explains as the time "when the balance of forces shifts from the old structure, from the old ways of doing business and the old ways of competing, to the new." Von Eschenbach compared the 20th century quest to understand the fundamental nature of matter, and the work in Los Alamos in particular, to today's quest to understand the cell; both he called "moments of strategic inflection."

NCI director Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach speaks to CRTA interns.

The director then gave the students an overview of research at NCI and reminded them that they are in positions of great opportunity to help eradicate cancer. He sent the students back to their labs with: "I wish you the very best of luck. I wish I could switch places with you."

For the third year in a row, NCI's Office of Diversity and Employment Programs sponsored the lecture to honor summer science CRTA interns, numbering between 450 and 500 students. The lecture gives the interns an opportunity to meet one another, to meet the NCI director in a special setting, to be exposed to NCI leadership outside of the lab and to get a broader perspective on activities beyond their assigned lab or project.

"At other internships I've had, I never had the experience of a top level speaker discussing the importance of interns," said Chris Zalewski, a CRTA intern who attended the lecture. He is working on sequencing cat genes at NCI's facility in Frederick, Md. He said von Eschenbach's talk was very inspirational.

Adam Brandt, another intern at NCI's Frederick site, who will start his senior year in high school this fall, said the Director's Lecture was very interesting and informative. He has always loved biology. "I'm having a lot of fun," he said of his summer at NCI.

Ian Gifford displays his T-shirt from the Director's Lecture for the CRTA interns.

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