The InterViews podcast series provides first-person accounts of the lives and work of National Academy of Sciences members. In this series of one-on-one conversations, scientists talk about what inspired them to pursue the careers they chose and describe some of the most fascinating aspects of their research.
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Mina Bissell (cell biology)
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Why does your nose look like your nose? Why doesn’t it look like your elbow, when the DNA in your nose and your elbow are the same? These seemingly simple questions have captivated Mina Bissell for the past 40 years. Bissell faced quite a bit of resistance when she set out to find the answers: it was the 1960s and she was female, foreign and had unconventional ideas. But she’d grown up surrounded by strong, educated women in Iran, so she never thought to give up. Instead, she persisted, and what she found changed how we think about cancer. Specifically, she discovered that the stuff around cells—molecules called the "extracellular matrix"—can determine whether cells stay healthy or become sick. Mina Bissell is a distinguished scientist in the life sciences division of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2010.