Secrets Of The Most Productive People – Florian Krammer
Fast Company|Winter 2020/2021
“Science is not a job. It’s somewhere between a hobby and a passion.”
By Ainsley Harris

Professor of Vaccinology at Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai

I was concerned about COVID-19 on December 31, when I heard for the first time that there was an outbreak. With the release of the genetic sequence on January 10, it was pretty clear to me that this was not going to end well. For a couple of weeks I was almost in a panic about it, but it helped that we started to work on it right away. There are hints that antibodies prevent you from getting infected with COVID-19, but the magic number of antibodies that you need doesn’t exist yet. [At my lab,] we will establish it.

Even when I was a kid, I liked to get up in the morning. You get up and you’re excited about the day. Or I used to be. I’ve gone from a 12-hour working day during the week and maybe 6 to 8 hours during the weekend to 13-to-14-hour days without weekends. It drains a lot of energy. . . . Right now it’s conference calls back to back, from 7 or 8 a.m. to when I leave. We have lab meetings online, for example. Even if people are in the lab, we try not to linger in the room. But it wasn’t like that before. In academia, you [typically] have relatively large amounts of freedom. I’m a principal investigator, so I’m my own boss. Technically, my department chair is my boss. But there is no connection in terms of research. I do that on my own.

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