Science has been my first love from the time I was a boy, encouraged directly by my father with chemistry set, rocks and minerals, Indian arrow heads, microscope, and telescope.
He had hoped to be a man of science himself, but was thwarted by the Great Depression, and Sputnik 1, launched when I was eleven, was shining a bright light on science education in the US.
Having been sickly as a young child, I was encouraged to engage in quiet activities and discovered I could amuse myself endlessly with the exploration of nature.
I was very slow to learn to read—in retrospect a classic case of ADHD—and although this may have led to a compensatory leaning to large-scale pattern recognition, I did not do very well in elementary school.
However, by the end of my senior year in high school at a small New England boarding academy, I had managed to overcome some of these handicaps, took “advanced placement” in math, chemistry, and biology, and entered Harvard as a Sophomore in 1964.
That summer I was given the opportunity to work as a research assistant in the geophysics laboratory of chemistry Nobelist Willard Libby at UCLA.
There I met graduate student Lowell Lincoln Wood, we became immediate friends, and in the course of our intensive five years of friendship, I was introduced to the world of big thinking ala “big science.”
I went on to change my undergraduate major at Harvard from Lowell’s preferred chemistry and physics to my preferred biology while he completed his PhD.
Lowell was recruited by Edward Teller (“father of the hydrogen bomb”) to join the staff at the Lawrence Livermore Lab (“your nation’s weapons laboratory”) where he served as Teller’s protégé, principle national recruiter of “weapons grade” talent on behalf of the Hertz Foundation, and head of the top secret “O-group” that developed the Strategic Defense Initiative (known popularly as “Star Wars”).
Upon my graduation from Harvard I was graciously hired by Lowell as a “summer intern” at LLL and tried out the life of a top secret researcher.
However, I found that I was not well-prepared by my education to that point, nor qualified by temperament or political instincts to commit myself to the virtually monastic existence of weapon’s research—this was 1968 after all, and I felt much more powerfully attracted to the study and practice of yoga.
So, I left Livermore and after several draft-deferment seeking stints as a Peace Corps trainee and a secondary school teacher, I landed a day job at UCSF as an electron microscopy technician where I could make extensive use of the excellent medical library.
In 1973, now married and with a young daughter, we moved back to Connecticut where I worked as a research assistant in bacterial genetics publishing several papers with my mentor Claire Berg.
After completing a Master’s degree in genetics with Dr. Berg in 1975, I was inducted into Sigma Xi, the research honor society, while I deliberated between going for a PhD or switching to medicine.
It soon became clear that if my interest as a yogi was primarily in human biology, however, then without question the best route would be medicine.
UCONN had an innovative new medical school in Farmington housed in a gorgeous new medical complex, plus low tuition for state residents—it was “a no-brainer.”
As an “older” (and “wiser”?) med student, I finished near the top of my class in three and a half years.
As a senior elective, I did an in-depth study of the physiology of fasting based on the extensive research that had been completed by then on the subject at the Joslin Diabetes Institute by George Cahill MD.
Since I was keen to get back to California, I accepted an internship at UC Davis, Sacramento Medical Center, which then qualified me for licensure.
My medical career divided into two major periods: in the ‘80s I worked as a rural GP doing 70 hour weeks with every third night and weekend on call; in the ‘90s I morphed into an urban nutritional medical specialist working a much saner four day week.
I based my work in nutritional medicine on the rapidly developing literature in cellular biochemistry—especially as translated into clinically usable form by such pioneers as Jeffry Bland PhD and Jonathan Wright MD.
The shift in my practice coincided with the establishment of the Office of Alternative Medicine at the NIH and the rapid emergence of nutritional medicine as a robust science-based alternative to conventional drug therapies.
All the same, when the opportunity to retire from medicine arose early in the new millennium, I leapt at the chance to return to my avocation–the Yoga Science Project described here in this website.