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Sidney Pestka: taking science to new heights

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Sidney Pestka had two early influences urging him to aim high.

As a boy, his parents told him to “move ahead to the highest plains,” says the acclaimed doctor and researcher.

After medical school in 1961, Pestka worked on the genetic code and proteins for Marshall Nirenberg at the National Institutes of Health.

Nirenberg, who later won a Nobel Prize, told the young man that “it takes as much effort and time to work on something that’s not significant as it does to work on something that will make a major contribution,” Pestka recalls. “I’ve always remembered that.”

Pestka’s groundbreaking work has produced great strides in treatments for cancer, multiple sclerosis and hepatitis. He’s known as the “father of interferon.”

Bottom line: Don’t bog down your protégés and interns in grunt work. Help them keep their sights set at the highest levels.

—Adapted from “He Keeps His Sights Elevated,” Michael Mink, Investor’s Business Daily.

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