Fifteen years ago, Michael Jung was already an eminent scientist when his wife asked him a question that would change his career, and extend the lives of many men with a particularly lethal form of prostate cancer.
“I really thought seriously,” said Jung, who at the time was an organic chemist who designed new synthetic molecules and conducted pure, rather than applied, research. “If you’re going to change anything, you better do it soon. I decided to do what I had always wanted to do, but never had the guts to try: I would change my research group from synthetic chemistry to drug discovery to see if we could create a drug for some human disease. That’s a ridiculously grand goal because you can work 40 years in the pharmaceutical industry, know exactly what you’re doing and still never produce a drug. But I figured if you’re going to have a goal for the rest of your life, it might as well be a big one. And, even if I failed miserably, people would just say, Mike Jung must have taken early retirement.”