The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
SMU professor to return to campus after being trapped in Gaza for 12 years
Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024
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Ordinary men, extraordinary lives

I’ve become attuned to noticing irony in everyday life, and there’s one example of it from the past week that’s so salient I can’t help but comment on it. This marks the week that the Nobel Committee has been awarding its prizes for such categories as literature, peace, physics and chemistry.

However, one of the earliest announcements involved the recipients of the Nobel Prize for medicine on Monday. This year, the prize was split between American scientist Bruce Beutler, French scientist Jules Hoffman and Canadian-born scientist Ralph Steinman. The work of all three scientists has greatly improved the medical community’s ability to understand the human immune system and fight cancer, and Steinman’s own research helped contribute to the launch last year of the first approved vaccine to kill tumors.

The award was announced on Monday; unfortunately, Dr. Steinman passed away a short three days before then. He had been battling pancreatic cancer for four years, and the very research he was doing helped develop a new form of cancer therapy that might have helped him prolong his life and continue working with his colleagues to fight cancer.

That Steinman was killed by the very disease he had set out to eradicate is grimly ironic, yet nonetheless inspiring to the rest of us. The work of all three of these Nobel laureates will undoubtedly help save lives in the future, and though this can’t erase the tragedy surrounding Steinman’s death, it can at least help us rest assured that his work will transcend his corporeal exit from this world.

Moreover, I can’t help but notice the coincidence that both Steinman and Steve Jobs suffered from the same form of cancer. I am wary of lionizing people like Steve Jobs; he merits a great deal of respect and his example is one that innovators across the globe ought to strive to emulate, but I’m not exactly amenable to headlines calling him “our generation’s Thomas Edison.”

Rather than describe people like Jobs and Steinman as what we’d like them to be, I think it’s fairer to both of them to analyze their work and lives as they truly were. They were not gods nor were they supermen. Putting them on pedestals and looking up to them can be nice, but it’s important to remember that they were ordinary human beings who accomplished extraordinary things. And their resolve is not something out of our reach too; while not every person can have the impact they did, their drive is something we can and should make a stronger part of our own lives.

Brandon Bub is a sophomore majoring in English and edits The Daily Campus opinion column. He can be reached for comment at [email protected] 

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