Past Presidents Reflect on How the MCS Impacted Their Careers

There is no doubt in my mind that I owe my entire career to the Microcirculatory Society, which during the 60’s -90’s was synonymous with my mentor, Benjamin W. Zweifach, one of its founding members.  It was Ben Zweifach who recognized the value of bringing a strong engineering content into the society’s base membership. His partnership with Y. C. Fung spawned the application of engineering toward placing microvascular function on a firm quantitative foundation.  Ben also recognized the importance of openness of scientific views, diversity of opinions, and freedom of expression.  These were the hallmarks of the Society during his career.  Through networking within the Society, I was introduced to numerous leaders in physiology and engineering that facilitated the development of my career and broadened my horizons.  Serving as an officer of the Society (committee member, councilor, president) opened up many new avenues for professional and personal growth that led to a steady stream of funding from NIH and advancement through the ranks of academia.  Whatever Ben did not teach me during my studies at La Jolla, was supplied by Shu Chien, another senior member of the Society who contributed greatly to its growth.   For me, these were just two of the many members of the microcirculatory family that enhanced my career.  After thinking about all of the benefits I derived from the MCS, I will now gladly pay my dues for next year.

My association with the MCS has been professionally and personally rewarding, and it has had a big impact on my career development. In my formative years as a scientist, the Society provided the opportunity for me to meet and interact with the thought leaders in the field of microcirculation research. These interactions have resulted in a number of career-long scientific collaborations and friendships that I value to this day.

The Microcirculatory Society (MCS) has had an immense impact on my career in many areas, including the extremely high quality of research presented by MCS members at meetings and in scientific journals, the immense amount of scientific knowledge that I have obtained by following the work of MCS members throughout the years, and the innovative scientific concepts presented and discussed by MCS members in journals and at scientific meetings.  The two greatest honors of my scientific career stem directly from the MCS, namely serving as MCS president and receiving 2014 Eugene M. Landis award.  Neither of these two great honors would have been possible without the knowledge and guidance that I gained as a member of the MCS.  However, much more important by far has been the immense collegiality and friendship that I have experienced in the MCS.  I shall always be grateful for the expert mentoring and guidance I received from Dr. Brian Duling at the University of Virginia (and my inclusion in the extended family of the Duling laboratory); and the wonderful friendships from world class scientists and exceptional thinkers associated with the MCS—another extended family.  Another benefit that was extended to me and which has continued with my graduate students and postdoctoral fellows is the continued dedication and commitment of the MCS to training and mentoring young scientists and trainees, developing their skills, and making them feel welcome.  One of my fondest memories is the incredible collegiality shown to me by Dr. Benjamin Zweifach at MCS meetings when I was a lowly postdoctoral fellow—a memory that I shall always treasure.

The Microcirculatory Society provides the opportunity to interact with colleagues from U.S. and around the world to exchange information on microcirculatory research at meetings and through the journal. My Presidency at the MCS gave me the wonderful opportunity to serve the Society and enhance its activities; this provided the valuable background and experience for me to serve other larger societies and federations.

I joined the MCS during my first year as a postdoctoral fellow, presented my work at our annual meeting and initiated friendships that continue to this day. After starting my own laboratory, receiving the MCS Travel Award as a Young Investigator enabled my visits to European laboratories that ultimately shaped my career in microcirculation. Serving on MCS committees, on Council and as President fostered lasting interactions with colleagues committed to advancing our field. The MCS meetings have provided a renewable source of energy, support and forum for my trainees to earn recognition for their work and to advance professionally. I have grown personally through mentoring young investigators in our field and to this day their accomplishments make me proud of what we do.

The MCS has been an important and valuable part of my scientific and personal life over the past 35 years. The Society has provided a rich and supportive environment to develop my career and has been an important source of scientific colleagues, many of which developed into lifelong friends.

When I think back to the time is was asked to serve as President (2003/2004) the Society was in some state of upheaval regarding the Omics initiatives and the new thinking and opportunities that became possible by the use of genetic approaches to microvascular research.  New ways of thinking in "systems" terms needed to be combined and integrated into quantitative microvascular approaches.  In a retreat the Council developed new initiatives for joint meetings with the British Microcirculatory Society and for independent Fall Meetings in addition to the traditional spring meeting as Guest Society of the American Physiological Society.   The Society expanded the scope of its journal Microcirculation and discussed joint publication with other national societies.  Most important, the Society celebrated in festive setting its 50th Anniversary at the Academy of Science Building in Washington Dc.   There were spectacular contributions including a CD of historical films about the microcirculation assembled by Robert McCuskey from archives by early investigators, reaching back to August Krogh.

Coming from a background in experimental high energy physics in graduate school, I was fortunate to do a postdoc with Brian Duling who cultivated in me a love and respect for the microcirculation.  Brian made sure that I had the opportunity to meet, hear and interact with the founders of modern microcirculation.  Throughout my career individual members and the Society have been supportive and the MCS has remained strong through good leadership over the years.  It is my hope that the current generation of microcirculatory scientists will carry on this tradition.

I attended my first MCS meeting as a graduate student in the late 1970’s.  I wanted to be a part of this exciting science and MCS has, for over 30 years, been an integral part of my scientific career.  In addition MCS has provided lifelong scientific colleagues who I also consider my dear friends.  All of our careers have been enhanced by membership in MCS.