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Love and Science: A Memoir
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Long before he became one of the world's most celebrated immunologists, Jan Vilcek began life in Slovakia as the child of Jewish parents. He owes his and his mother's survival to the courage of brave people and good luck. As a young man growing up in Czechoslovakia in the aftermath of the Second World War, Vilcek went to medical school and chose a career in virology and immunology at a time when these fields were still in their infancy. He went on to be one of the most accomplished scientists in the world. In this memoir he tells his two intertwined stories.
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About the Author

JAN T. VILCEK is professor of Microbiology at NYU Langone Medical Center. Born in Bratislava, Slovakia (then Czechoslovakia), where he also earned his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees, Vilcek together with his wife, Marica Vilcek, an art historian, immigrated to the US in 1965 where he joined the faculty of NYU School of Medicine. He is among the earliest researchers of interferon, an important immune system protein. Dr. Vilcek's contributions to the understanding of proteins that control the body's defenses were instrumental in the development of the anti-inflammatory drug Remicade , the first member of a new class therapeutics called TNF blockers that are now widely used for the treatment of Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and other chronic inflammatory disorders. Dr. Vilcek has published more than 350 scholarly papers, and written or edited several professional books, He is also named as co-inventor on 38 U.S. patents. For his discoveries and his philanthropy, Vilcek received a 2013 National Medal of Technology and Innovation from President Obama.

Reviews

-Jan Vilcek's book tells an astonishing story of two intertwined journeys--one scientific, the other personal. The arc of the personal journey is remarkable: a childhood in Bratislava torn apart by Nazism and then overshadowed by Communism and an escape to a new continent. The scientific journey is just as vast--from explorations in immunology and microbiology to the discovery of some of the most remarkable medicines of our times. In both journeys, we encounter the essential ingredients of adventure: the urgency of exploration, flashes of inspiration, false leads, sudden successes, the importance of serendipity, the tortuous ups-and-downs of failures and struggles--but above all, that powerful animus to explore and discover new worlds. I could not put it down.- --Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD, author of The Emperor of All Maladies -Jan Vilcek does not make himself the center of a heroic narrative but gives space to colleagues, friends, and family, yet emerging from this narrative is the unmistakably wise, warm, optimistic, and modest soul of a great man.- --Yiyun Li, author of Kinder than Solitude and Gold Boy, Emerald Girl-This is a memoir to be cherished. Dr. Jan Vilcek's remarkable life bears witness to the totalitarian evils of Nazism and Communism that shaped his native Czechoslovakia, and to the life-saving miracles he produced in the laboratories of his adopted homeland, the United States. It's a story of courage and freedom, of discovery and philanthropy--told with the elegant modesty of a man who devoted his life to easing the world's pain. Put simply, it demands to be read.- --David Oshinsky, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in History for Polio: An American Story -Jan Vilcek tells a gripping story of a childhood on the run, escape from tyranny, and the building of a career and a discovery that benefits millions. A tale of both remarkable humanity and science, and hard to put down...- --Martin Blaser, MD, author of Missing Microbes -It's a marvelous book, as interesting about science as it is about the adventures of this extraordinary man. I couldn't put it down.- --Charles Simic, poet, essayist, and translator, past Pulitzer Prize winner and Poet Laureate of the United States -Jan Vilcek's extraordinary book sets a new standard in science writing and will inspire generations to come. It tells us what America is all about and shows that success can lead to generosity and visionary philanthropy.- --Eric R. Kandel, MD, Nobel Laureate, author of In Search of Memory and The Age of Insight -In this compelling memoir, a modest giant in medical research survives the Nazis, escapes the Communists, thrives as an immigrant scientist, and turns unexpected wealth into prizes that remind us of the value of immigration. A great story appearing at a hazardous time in our nation's history!- --Harold Varmus, MD, Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine "Jan Vilcek's book tells an astonishing story of two intertwined journeys--one scientific, the other personal. The arc of the personal journey is remarkable: a childhood in Bratislava torn apart by Nazism and then overshadowed by Communism and an escape to a new continent. The scientific journey is just as vast--from explorations in immunology and microbiology to the discovery of some of the most remarkable medicines of our times. In both journeys, we encounter the essential ingredients of adventure: the urgency of exploration, flashes of inspiration, false leads, sudden successes, the importance of serendipity, the tortuous ups-and-downs of failures and struggles--but above all, that powerful animus to explore and discover new worlds. I could not put it down." --Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD, author of The Emperor of All Maladies "Jan Vilcek does not make himself the center of a heroic narrative but gives space to colleagues, friends, and family, yet emerging from this narrative is the unmistakably wise, warm, optimistic, and modest soul of a great man." --Yiyun Li, author of Kinder than Solitude and Gold Boy, Emerald Girl"This is a memoir to be cherished. Dr. Jan Vilcek's remarkable life bears witness to the totalitarian evils of Nazism and Communism that shaped his native Czechoslovakia, and to the life-saving miracles he produced in the laboratories of his adopted homeland, the United States. It's a story of courage and freedom, of discovery and philanthropy--told with the elegant modesty of a man who devoted his life to easing the world's pain. Put simply, it demands to be read." --David Oshinsky, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in History for Polio: An American Story "Jan Vilcek tells a gripping story of a childhood on the run, escape from tyranny, and the building of a career and a discovery that benefits millions. A tale of both remarkable humanity and science, and hard to put down..." --Martin Blaser, MD, author of Missing Microbes "It's a marvelous book, as interesting about science as it is about the adventures of this extraordinary man. I couldn't put it down." --Charles Simic, poet, essayist, and translator, past Pulitzer Prize winner and Poet Laureate of the United States "Jan Vilcek's extraordinary book sets a new standard in science writing and will inspire generations to come. It tells us what America is all about and shows that success can lead to generosity and visionary philanthropy." --Eric R. Kandel, MD, Nobel Laureate, author of In Search of Memory and The Age of Insight "In this compelling memoir, a modest giant in medical research survives the Nazis, escapes the Communists, thrives as an immigrant scientist, and turns unexpected wealth into prizes that remind us of the value of immigration. A great story appearing at a hazardous time in our nation's history!" --Harold Varmus, MD, Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine "Jan Vilcek s book tells an astonishing story of two intertwined journeys one scientific, the other personal. The arc of the personal journey is remarkable: a childhood in Bratislava torn apart by Nazism and then overshadowed by Communism and an escape to a new continent. The scientific journey is just as vast from explorations in immunology and microbiology to the discovery of some of the most remarkable medicines of our times. In both journeys, we encounter the essential ingredients of adventure: the urgency of exploration, flashes of inspiration, false leads, sudden successes, the importance of serendipity, the tortuous ups-and-downs of failures and struggles but above all, that powerful animus to explore and discover new worlds. I could not put it down." Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD, author of "The Emperor of All Maladies" "Jan Vilcek does not make himself the center of a heroic narrative but gives space to colleagues, friends, and family, yet emerging from this narrative is the unmistakably wise, warm, optimistic, and modest soul of a great man." Yiyun Li, author of"Kinder than Solitude"and"Gold Boy, Emerald Girl""This is a memoir to be cherished.Dr. Jan Vilcek s remarkable life bears witness to the totalitarian evils of Nazism and Communism that shaped his native Czechoslovakia, and to the life-saving miracles he produced in the laboratories of his adopted homeland, the United States.It s a story of courage and freedom, of discovery and philanthropy told with the elegant modesty of a man who devoted his life to easing the world s pain.Put simply, it demands to be read." David Oshinsky, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in History for"Polio: An American Story " "Jan Vilcek tells a gripping story of a childhood on the run, escape from tyranny, and the building of a career and a discovery that benefits millions. A tale of both remarkable humanity and science, and hard to put down..." Martin Blaser, MD, author of"Missing Microbes" "It s a marvelous book, as interesting about science as it is about the adventures of this extraordinary man. I couldn t put it down." Charles Simic, poet, essayist, and translator, past Pulitzer Prize winner and Poet Laureate of the United States Jan Vilcek s extraordinary book sets a new standard in science writing and will inspire generations to come. It tells us what America is all about and shows that success can lead to generosity and visionary philanthropy. EricR.Kandel, MD, Nobel Laureate, author of"In Search of Memory" and "The Age of Insight" "In this compelling memoir, a modest giant in medical research survives the Nazis, escapes the Communists, thrives as an immigrant scientist, and turns unexpected wealth into prizes that remind us of the value of immigration. A great story appearing at a hazardous time in our nation's history! Harold Varmus, MD, Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine """

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