CASSANDRA QUAVE

BBC Earth (Asia) - - Science -

What mo­ti­vates you?

The ex­cite­ment of ev­ery mo­ment of dis­cov­ery. Also, the let­ters I get from pa­tients and the in­ter­ac­tions I have with my stu­dents re­ally keep me mo­ti­vated.

Have you ever had mo­ments when you felt like giv­ing up?

Yes. The constant failure and re­jec­tion, es­pe­cially for fund­ing, can re­ally wear on you. Ev­ery­one sees your suc­cesses but they don’t know about the 5 to 10 fail­ures be­hind ev­ery suc­cess.

What’s your re­sponse to peo­ple who say your project won’t work?

Well, first and fore­most I try to lis­ten to them – I’m al­ways open to ideas and feed­back – but I don’t let un­nec­es­sar­ily dis­mis­sive com­ments stop my work.

If you were able to rent out a bill­board in Times Square, what would you write on it?

‘Stop habi­tat de­struc­tion, and sup­port preser­va­tion of biodiversity and cul­tural di­ver­sity.’ That doesn’t make a very sexy head­line, but that would be my main mes­sage to the pub­lic.

What will your field of re­search look like in 2050?

I en­vi­sion a new era of medicine in which we ap­proach drug-re­sis­tant in­fec­tions in a whole new way. Ad­vances in our un­der­stand­ing of how syn­er­gis­tic ther­a­pies work will en­able us to de­sign bet­ter medicines that quickly re­duce the sever­ity of dis­ease and achieve cures even for dif­fi­cult-to-treat, an­tibi­oti­cre­sis­tant in­fec­tions.

ABOVE: MRSA bac­te­ria (pink spheres) are re­sis­tant to many com­mon an­tibi­otics, mak­ing an in­fec­tion hard to treat

LEFT: Ex­tracts from sweet chest­nut can block the ef­fects of MRSA

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