Richard van Breemen
The Power List 2020 – North America
Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Linus Pauling Institute and College of Pharmacy, Oregon State University, USA
Motivation: My father Verne van Breemen (named after Jules Verne) and my maternal grandfather Harry M. Hines were both professors and biomedical researchers. As a preschooler, my father would bring me to his electron microscopy laboratory, where he was pioneering the use of transmission EM to visualize intracellular organelles in the 1950s and 1960s. The walls of his laboratory were covered with electron micrographs and the transmission electron microscopes were awesome.
Dinner party guest: Linus Pauling. I had a chance to meet Linus Pauling following a lecture he gave in 1987, but I had no idea that one day my laboratory would be based at Oregon State University at the research institute he had founded. During our brief meeting, we discussed how to approach teaching undergraduate students spectroscopic techniques, especially MS. Given the opportunity to talk with Linus Pauling over dinner, I would love to discuss my interest in using MS for natural product drug discovery in the context of our mutual goals of preventing diseases of aging.
Advice to younger self: When beginning my career as an academic analytical scientist in the 1980s, there was enormous pressure (as there is today) to obtain research grants, publish results, and excel in student teaching and mentoring. Mentoring students has been my most rewarding endeavor. However, I would recommend prioritizing my research interests according to their long-term significance and spend more time and effort on the high-impact projects, even though funding for lower impact, short-term projects might be easier to obtain.