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An Interview with Deb Stone (Part Three)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 12.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Eight)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: September 22, 2016

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2017

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,185

ISSN 2369-6885

Deb Stone

Abstract

An interview with Deb Stone. She discusses: self-expression; Mensa previous high male-to-female issue; anything being done about it; instantaneous access to information and the need to single out geniuses; Mensa raising American political discourse; Mensa Match; its success; Mensa marriages; becoming geniuses through engineered circuitry in brains; first engineered brain member of Mensa; famous Mensa members; reasons for joining Mensa; most popular Mensa activities; stereotypes of about smart people that are inaccurate or annoying; accurate stereotypes; annoying things about non-smart people; upcoming collaborative projects; upcoming solo projects; and recommended authors.

Keywords: American Mensa, Deb Stone, Mensa.

An Interview with Deb Stone: Chair, AMC (National Boad of Directors), American Mensa (Part Three)[1],[2],[3],[4]

*Footnotes in and after the interview, & bibliography & citation style listing after the interview.*

25. What forms of self-expression provide meaning in life for you?

I love most kinds of music and play the piano. I attend concert, classical music, opera and theatre events. I love representational art (painting, sculpture, etc) but tend to shy away from some of the more modern and more abstract art. I read voraciously, and I write – but mostly for myself. I do needlework, I love to color and I love thunderstorms. I love to cook and I don’t really use recipes. I try to live my life doing the right things in the right way for the right reasons. My hope, manifested in the way I live my life (my own form of self-expression) is that when I’m gone I will have left a positive impact on those around me.

26. In the past, Mensa had a high male-to-female ratio. Does this remain the case?

Yes, the ratio is still skewed to a much larger proportion of males to females.

27. Is there anything being done about it?

I think the simple answer is no. We encourage people from many different groups that may be underrepresented in our current membership to join, not just women. Mensa, like any organization, doesn’t appeal to everyone equally. We have a single criterion for entry, and we welcome anyone who meets that criterion. Interestingly, at the current time a majority of the AMC is female so the general membership ratio is not reflected on the national board.

28. In a world where everyone has instantaneous access to information and expertise via cellphones, why do we still need to single out geniuses?

Genius is not the same thing as information or expertise. I do believe we need genius, because genius can help move things forward. Information and expertise is based on what we already know and the way we interpret or use what we already know. Sometimes genius is the spark for finding out something new, or interpreting something in a new way. Sometimes it’s an ability to do something better than it’s been done before – there are many ways genius can manifest (some positive and some negative). But ultimately, it’s part of what makes us human.

And I would add, we don’t need only genius – we need wisdom as well. Wisdom is not just being smart or having a high IQ. It’s much more than that, and I think it’s in relatively short supply in our world right now.

29. American politics certainly doesn’t seem to be getting smarter. Could Mensa help raise the discourse?

Perhaps we could. But while some of our individual members may try to do so, Mensa as an organization holds no opinions. That has been part of our guiding principles for much longer than I have been a member. And, as I have already said in this interview, smart varies depending on circumstance. What’s smart in terms of American politics? I have my opinion, but other Mensans have theirs as well. Within Mensa, we sometime say “Leading Mensans is like herding cats!”. You will also hear people make statements like “If you put 100 Mensans in a room you have at least 125 opinions.”

30. In 2014, you introduced Mensa Match, for Mensa members interested in dating.

Yes, that’s correct.

31. Has that been successful?

I haven’t taken part in it myself so have no direct knowledge, but I believe most people would answer that it has been successful.

32. Have you had any Mensa marriages?

There have been many Mensa marriages over many years, going back decades.

33. Do you think that during your lifetime, people will be able to become geniuses by adding engineered circuitry to their brains?

In my opinion, no, this will not happen in my lifetime. But I’ve been wrong before!

34. In what year do you think Mensa will admit its first member with an engineered brain – a synthetic brain with artificial intelligence?

Honestly, I have no idea. But it will be interesting to see how an artificial intelligence rates on an IQ scale as opposed to an achievement or knowledge-based test.

35. What famous members do you have?

There have been many famous Mensans over the years, and they have been famous for many different reasons. Just a few of them include Geena Davis & Alan Rachins (actors), Marilyn Vos Savant, Dr. Lance L Ware & Roland Berrill (co-founders of Mensa), Terance Black (screenwriter), Deborah Yates (Radio City Rockette), Andrain Cronauer, Bobby Czyz (WBA Cruiserweight Champion), Jean Auel (author) Patricia P Jennings (pianist), Richard Lederer (writer/speaker), Isaac Asimov (author), Dr. Abbie F Salny (former Mensa supervisory psychologist and author of the Mensa ‘Quiz-a-Day’ books.

36. Why would someone join Mensa?

There are lots and lots of reasons people join. Some join to see if they can. Some join so that they can show membership on a resume. Some join for access to people with like interests or backgrounds or perspectives. Some join for some of our special events or activities. Some join for access to our special interest groups. Some join for fun. Some join for fellowship. Some join for intellectual stimulation. Some join for family and relationships (I ended up with an entire second ‘family’ once I became active in Mensa).

37. What are your most popular activities?

There are a few national activities/events, including our national convention (called the Annual Gathering or AG), MindGames and Culture Quest (which is a national trivia contest.) There are also many SIGs (Special Interest Groups) which can be national or local. AML is made up of over 120 different local groups in 10 regions. The majority of face-to-face activities happen at the local group level. Among the most popular of these are activities like visits by a group of Mensans to museums or other non-M-specific venues or activities, dinner or lunch get-togethers, games get-togethers and what we call Regional Gathering or RGs. Depending on where (what part of the country) these things happen, they may draw anywhere from a just a few to several hundred members and guests. Like many membership organizations, the number of members who engage by attending events is a minority of the overall membership. In these days, there are may more members who are involved in activities that don’t include regular face-to face interactions, but are instead primarily online, use communication like email or are social media based. One of the things that consistently ranks as one of the most popular benefits of membership is our national publication (Mensa Bulletin), so that’s probably the most popular activity in terms of pure numbers.

38. What stereotypes about smart people do you find most inaccurate and annoying?

I most dislike stereotypes that focus on externals. For example, that ‘all smart people’ are nerdy, wear glasses, aren’t athletic, are unattractive, aren’t socially adept, are shy or are just ‘weird’.  On the other hand, we have the stereotypes that all smart people know about computers, are like absent-minded professors, are obsessive, only want to do nerdy things (like science, math computers, etc), all play weird role-playing games and don’t have to work hard to know or learn things.

39. What stereotypes are most accurate?

In my experience, the one thing that almost all Mensans have in common (because there are lots and lots and lots of differences) is books. Almost every Mensa home I have entered has books. We like to learn things, we like to know things, and so most of us read. A lot!

40. What do you find most annoying about not-smart people?

I challenge the premise of this question; what makes a person “not-smart”? People have different expertise, certainly. I scored in the top 2% on an IQ test. Does that make me smart? In some ways, I guess so. However, I don’t know practically anything about plumbing, so does that make a plumber smarter than I am?

In any case, I don’t find groups of people annoying. I do find some individual people annoying and it’s generally when they are being intentionally or purposefully obtuse or disagreeable or negative.

41. Any upcoming collaborative projects?

As I mentioned a little earlier, my business partner and I are just opening a new real estate business. The business will offer not only standard brokerage services, but will also provide additional ancillary services on a fee-for-service basis to a particular niche market.

42. Any upcoming solo projects?

I’m working on a couple of articles related to workers’ compensation, focused on the concept of integrated disability management. I’m currently planning a home improvement project to add a shower to an existing powder room, and am in the design phase.

43. Any recommended authors?

I read non-fiction on occasion, but I am primarily a fiction reader for fun and enjoyment. Having said that, my tastes are pretty eclectic. At any moment in time I probably have 5 or 6 books going. One might be classic science fiction (Asimov or Heinlein before he got too self-indulgent or John Brunner or even Burroughs or EE Smith). Another is probably a mystery of some kind; I love Sayers and Rex Stout, some of Robert B Parker’s books, Martha Grimes and some of the cozy series that are so ubiquitous right now. Another will definitely be a PG Wodehouse or Wizard of Oz book. I’m always re-reading Austen and Fielding, or I might be in the middle of Boccaccio or reading part of the Bible or the Koran or maybe some Kai Lung (Ernest Bramah). Oh, and the poetry and essays of John Donne.

You will see that there are a lot of books written anywhere from 20 to 200 or more years ago. One problem with being a reader, and being a reader who reads very quickly is that there are seldom books around the house that I haven’t already read. As a result, when I’m looking for a new book at 2:00am or some equally ridiculous time, I find myself pulling out old favorites and reading them again.

Having an e-reader does help provide access to books at those odd moments, but I prefer the visceral feel of a real book so usually use the Kindle when I’m traveling.

Thank you for your time, Deb Stone.

Bibliography

  1. LinkedIn. (2016). Deb Stone. Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/in/deb-stone-9578395.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Chair (2015, July), AMC (National Board of Directors), American Mensa; Owner (2015, August), Stone Business & Risk Consulting LLC.

[2] Individual Publication Date: September 22, 2016 at www.in-sightjournal.com; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2017 at https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

[3] Thompson River University (1986-1988); Douglas College (1984-1986); Kamloops Senior Secondary.

[4] Photograph courtesy of Deb Stone.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Deb Stone (Part Three) [Online].September 2016; 12(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-deb-stone-part-three.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2016, September 15). An Interview with Deb Stone (Part Three)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-deb-stone-part-three.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Deb Stone (Part Three)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 12.A, September. 2016. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-deb-stone-part-three>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2016. “An Interview with Deb Stone (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 12.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-deb-stone-part-three.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Deb Stone (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 12.A (September 2016). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-deb-stone-part-three.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2016, ‘An Interview with Deb Stone (Part Three)’In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 12.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-deb-stone-part-three>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2016, ‘An Interview with Deb Stone (Part Three)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 12.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-deb-stone-part-three.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Deb Stone (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 12.A (2016):September. 2016. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-deb-stone-part-three>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Deb Stone (Part Three) [Internet]. (2016, September; 12(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-deb-stone-part-three.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with Deb Stone (Part Two)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 12.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Eight)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: September 15, 2016

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2017

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,446

ISSN 2369-6885

Deb Stone

Abstract

An interview with Deb Stone. She discusses: idea for Stone Business & Risk Consulting; tasks and responsibilities with own a consulting company; general advice relevant for those without the expertise in consultation; tasks and responsibilities as the chair of the national board of directors for American Mensa, Ltd.; interest in intelligence tests; interest in high IQ societies; greatest emotional struggle in personal life; greatest emotional struggle in professional life; general philosophy; political philosophy; social philosophy; economic philosophy; aesthetic philosophy; and the interrelationship of the philosophies.

Keywords: American Mensa, Deb Stone, Mensa.

An Interview with Deb Stone: Chair, AMC (National Board of Directors), American Mensa (Part Two)[1],[2],[3],[4]

*Footnotes in and after the interview, & bibliography & citation style listing after the interview.*

9. How did the professional credentials align with the eventual work as a vice president, actuary, and director, and so on?

I received my designations while I worked for Hanover Insurance, and that allowed me to take on leadership positions there. But the move out to California would not have happened if I was not an FCAS, and the Chief Actuary jobs also would not have been possible without my FCAS. While the designations gave me credibility for the non-actuarial positions, they were not necessary. Now that I am doing private consulting, having my FCAS is an imperative as there are many other actuaries out there. The combination of my being designated and having the broad background in insurance (instead of just the actuarial background) and business help me attract clients.

10. Any advice for those coming into actuarial work?

Sure – look at what you like to do. You will have to decide what practice area attracts you (property/casualty, life, annuities, health) and what your ultimate goal is likely to be. Actuaries can stay in insurance their entire career, or branch out into affiliated or non-traditional roles. Think about whether you want to be back-office kind of person or eventually work closer to the customer. Choose an employer who truly supports you as an aspiring actuary. Many employers offer study programs, and those that offer study time at work are a great help. Think about the timing of the work load at a prospective employer; e.g. consulting firms have a lot of work in the later winter and early spring because of when filings are due. It can be difficult to balance your time between work, study and life in that environment, especially for folks just coming into the field. Big data, predictive modelling and other technology driven applications are becoming more and more important in the field; be open to those possibilities. LEARN ABOUT INSURANCE – don’t be content with just the actuarial stuff. You’ll have many more and diverse opportunities if you really understand the entire business.

11. Now, you own Stone Business & Risk Consulting (since August, 2015).[5] How did the idea for this company come to you?

I had, at the request of my Commissioner at the NH Insurance Department, taken on a role as the Director of Financial Regulation. It turned out not to be the best fit for me; it was very technical but not really analytical. As I became increasingly familiar with the laws and regulations, processes, accounting standards, etc that are part of the financial regulation side, I just started to become a little bored and wasn’t really enjoying my position as much. I decided that it made sense, for the sake of the Department and myself, that I leave. Originally, my intention had really been to take some time off before deciding on a next move, but within a short time after announcing my departure and while still at the Department. I started hearing from some people who were interested in having me work with them. I was not willing to take on another full-time job as I am more interested now in some entrepreneurial possibilities, so a consulting firm seemed like a natural fit.

12. What tasks and responsibilities come with owning the consulting company?

Everything! I am a sole proprietor at this point, so have to do all the work. That includes research, evaluating projects, scheduling of my time, on some occasions acting as a project manager, bookkeeping and tax efforts, legal issues if they come up, data mining when necessary, building spreadsheets, liaising with clients or others involved in the project, writing reports, being available close to 24/7, etc.

13. What general advice seems relevant for those without the relevant expertise to know about consultation?

The best advice I can give someone who is interested in consulting is to talk to people who do that kind of work. As I mentioned earlier, it can be very difficult to pass the spring actuarial exams working in certain environments (because the work loads overtakes study time). Decide whether you are going to be looking for a job in an existing consulting firm or are going to start your own. If you are trying to join an existing firm, don’t meet with just one or more principals – talk to the associates, the people who support the projects. Find out whether the work environment/culture is a good fit for you. What would be your responsibilities for work? Are you responsible for client prospecting? Is there a mentoring and/or peer review process in place? If you are going out on your own, be honest about your capabilities and the amount of time you are willing to spend working for your clients – and how you are going to split your time between finding clients and working. Figure out what you need help with, and find the help. Make sure to keep some time for yourself, and communicate that to the people who are depending on you.

14. In addition to Stone Business & Risk Consulting, you are the chair of the national board of directors for American Mensa, Ltd. What tasks and responsibilities come with this high-level position?

The American Mensa Committee (AMC) is the national board of American Mensa. The chair runs the board meetings and the annual business meeting. The chair is a member of some committees, and may be (I am) an ex officio member of all other committees. The chair of AML is also an ex officio member of the Mensa Foundation board, a member of the Mensa International Board of Directors (IBD) and a member of the IBD Executive Committee. The chair writes an (almost) monthly column for our national magazine (the Mensa Bulletin) and an occasional column for the international publication. As an individual with prior board experience, I have tried to provide as much guidance and as many development opportunities to our board members as I can. Of course, the Chair sets the tone of the board.  I also try to follow the various Mensa Facebook groups and other social media. I work with the appropriate board members, committee members or staff on anything that comes up that needs direction from the board or executive committee. I attend Mensa events around the country when I can, and most times will be asked to speak. I make presentations at other forums on occasion as well (and I do interviews sometimes J). I know there are other things, but it’s impossible to remember then all at once!

15. Where did interest in intelligence tests originate for you?

Honestly, I didn’t have any real interest in IQ tests per se. A teacher told me my IQ when I was 11 years old, because “I had the highest IQ in my class.” It didn’t impress me much. In 1983, I was on a business trip and read a short blurb about Mensa in an airline magazine. It included a 10-question sample test, and I was able to complete the test in less than half the maximum time and with all 10 questions complete. The article suggested I take the Mensa admission test, and I did so. I qualified and joined. But I think that most Mensans actually don’t care so much about IQ in and of itself. I have yet to ask another Mensan, or be asked by another Mensan about an IQ score. It’s enough that through IQ testing, we have formed this community.

I care about IQ tests because they are the way people can qualify for Mensa and so I want our test(s) to be good ones.

16. What about high IQ societies?

Well, as a 32+ year member of Mensa, and a pretty active one at that, I’m in favor of them! Seriously, I appreciate Mensa for the benefits and relationships it has provided me, and for what are now life-long friendships. I was a member of another High-IQ society (Intertel) for a few years, but didn’t feel like I was getting much real benefit from that membership. Many of the members were also Mensa members, and the number of members in my area was quite small – so there weren’t really a lot of opportunities to get together.

So – I guess I would say that High-IQ societies are what we find in them and what we make of them. If the benefits and community that they create is of value to one, great! That value means different things to different people, and that’s great too. They work for some people, but not for others. I would love to see us grow our membership – because I think there are so many great things that Mensa provides – and so I value IQ tests as the means to that end.

17. What seems like the greatest emotional struggle in personal life?

For me, that would probably be conquering my own insecurities and shyness – still sometimes with me, despite all of the years.

18. What seems like the greatest emotional struggle in professional life?

My greatest professional struggle has always been managing my own expectations about people. There are a lot of things that are obvious to me that aren’t obvious to other people – and that surprises me constantly. When someone just doesn’t get something, I can have a tendency to appear to be impatient, irritated or intimidating. I’m better at managing it than I was when I was younger, but I have to be constantly aware.

19. What general philosophy seems the most correct to you?

Don’t do unto others what you would not have them do unto you.

This is a paraphrase of something Hillel said: “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah.”

20. What political philosophy seems the most correct to you?

I don’t identify with one party or one platform. Philosophically, I believe in fiscal responsibility, personal freedom accompanied by personal responsibility and letting people live their own lives. I guess maybe a combination of deliberative democracy, some measure of republicanism and the capability approach.

21. What social philosophy seems the most correct to you?

I’m not sure how to answer this question. Social philosophy to me is too broad to summarize here, but I think you if you read the other questions related to my philosophy you will see a pattern to them. Respect, hope, personal responsibility, personal accountability, giving back to the communities in which one takes part, providing support in any or all of its aspects to those with a true need and contributing in a meaningful way.

22. What economic philosophy seems the most correct to you?

I’m a capitalist and a Yankee. I believe in competitive markets, and I believe that value isn’t measured only in dollars.

23. What aesthetic philosophy seems the most correct to you?

I would say my aesthetic philosophy is a combination of the music aesthetic and the mathematics aesthetic – very broadly interpreted. There is, in my mind, a clear link between mathematics and music (patterns & symbols) but there is music in more than just music. Beautiful prose and poetry have their own music, as does art like paintings or sculpture. And nature as well. I guess I believe we should look for the beauty in all things around us, and appreciate how they fit into a grand pattern of life.

24. What interrelates these philosophies?

I guess I can only repeat what I said at the end of my response on social philosophy – the same things contribute to and inform all of my philosophy: Respect, hope, personal responsibility, personal accountability, giving back to the communities in which one takes part, providing support in any or all of its aspects to those with a true need and contributing in a meaningful way.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Chair (2015, July), AMC (National Board of Directors), American Mensa; Owner (2015, August), Stone Business & Risk Consulting LLC.

[2] Individual Publication Date: September 15, 2016 at www.in-sightjournal.com; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2017 at https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

[3] Thompson River University (1986-1988); Douglas College (1984-1986); Kamloops Senior Secondary.

[4] Photograph courtesy of Deb Stone.

[5] LinkedIn. (2016). Deb Stone. Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/in/deb-stone-9578395.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Deb Stone (Part Two) [Online].September 2016; 12(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-deb-stone-part-two.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2016, September 15). An Interview with Deb Stone (Part Two)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-deb-stone-part-two.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Deb Stone (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 12.A, September. 2016. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-deb-stone-part-two>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2016. “An Interview with Deb Stone (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 12.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-deb-stone-part-two.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Deb Stone (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 12.A (September 2016). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-deb-stone-part-two.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2016, ‘An Interview with Deb Stone (Part Two)’In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 12.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-deb-stone-part-two>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2016, ‘An Interview with Deb Stone (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 12.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-deb-stone-part-two.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Deb Stone (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 12.A (2016):September. 2016. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-deb-stone-part-two>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Deb Stone (Part Two) [Internet]. (2016, September; 12(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-deb-stone-part-two.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with Deb Stone (Part One)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 12.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Eight)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: September 8, 2016

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2017

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,266

ISSN 2369-6885

Deb Stone

Abstract

An interview with Deb Stone. She discusses: geographic, cultural, and linguistic background; influenced on development; pivotal moments in major cross-sections of early life; interest in mathematics and education; interest in operations research connected to mathematics and education; benefits and purposes for memberships in organizations; lessons from actuarial experience; and general lessons from the diverse, but associated, professional stations.

Keywords: American Mensa, Deb Stone, Mensa.

An Interview with Deb Stone: Chair, AMC (National Board of Directors), American Mensa (Part One)[1],[2],[3],[4]

*Footnotes in and after the interview, & bibliography & citation style listing after the interview.*

1. In terms of geography, culture, and language, where does your family background reside?

I was born in New Hampshire, and with the exception of a few years in southern California I have lived my life in the northeast US (New England, upstate NY, grad school in Philadelphia and a three years in New Jersey.) My ancestors on one side came from England (17th century) and from Ireland, Scotland & Sweden (late 19th & early 20th century) and on the other from eastern Europe (mostly Russia, Poland & Ukraine) in the late 19th & early 20th century. The eastern European part of the family is Jewish and the other side is mostly Christian. We are American/English speakers primarily, although my paternal grandparents were born in Russia and Ukraine and learned English when they arrived as kids, and on the maternal side my great-grandmother arrived in this country from Sweden at age 20 speaking no English.

2. How did this influence development?

I have relatively traditional Yankee values because I grew up mostly in NH and CT, with parents who were Yankees as well. There was a focus on education & learning on both sides of the family, but more so from the Jewish side. My family is very diverse (multiple races, religions, etc) which made me relatively socially liberal and I like to think open-minded and non-judgmental. The cultural diversity of the family is also, I expect, behind my own fascination with other cultures and languages.

3. What about influences and pivotal moments in major cross-sections of early life including kindergarten, elementary school, junior high school, high school, and undergraduate studies (college/university)?

I realized pretty early on that I didn’t really need school. I was reading by the time I was about 2 ½ or 3 and I told my parents when I started first grade (age 5) that I was going to go to UNH and study math. Up until then, my parents were my biggest influence. They provided an environment in which I could learn, they were both readers and encouraged my love of reading and they also encouraged my desire to know things and to keep learning. Once I started school I was lucky to have a few good teachers along the way. By good I mean they let me explore things on my own while providing support, and kept exposing me to stuff outside the normal curriculum. Like many Mensans, I became a de facto teacher’s aide and tutor.

Also like many Mensans, I was painfully shy and somewhat withdrawn (a lively internal life helped with that). Also, my family moved fairly often, which meant I was often in an environment in which I didn’t know anyone and starting over to try to make friends. When we relocated near the beginning of my sophomore year in high school, I entered a new school about a week into the school year, not knowing anyone. At lunch that first day, a girl came over to me as I was looking around the cafeteria, and said “We saw you in French class and Algebra – would you like to come sit with us?” I made friends that day that I still have now (45 years later). I was so grateful for the way she made me feel welcome, that I decided that I wanted to be able to do that for someone else someday. So, thanks to Chris Braen, I started trying to reach out to people, learn to listen and draw people out, and come out of my shell. She was a huge influence, because she was instrumental in helping shape the rest of my life.

College was in some ways more of the same. I entered (UNH as a math major!) with credits for the first full year of calculus, and exempted from certain other requirements through testing. That meant I was once again a little bit of a fish out of water, since I wasn’t in very many classes with freshmen. I also worked for the math department as a calculus exam grader in their testing center, which again set me a little apart from the people coming in to take exams who were mostly those same freshmen. My college roommate started dating the son of one of my first college math professors, and I got to know the whole family. Dr. Ross was another big influence on my; he accepted me, and encouraged me in my math studies and in leading a full life.

4. You earned a BS (1974-1977) in mathematics and education from the University of New Hampshire and an MBA (1980-1981) in operations research from University of Pennsylvania (The Wharton School).[5] What was the interest in mathematics and education for you?

I always loved math, right from the beginning when it was just arithmetic. I have a very analytical mind (and approach to just about everything) and I loved the problem solving. My friends and classmates hated the word problems, they were my favorites! And I found that by learning how to approach a problem, taking disparate pieces of information and acknowledging when there was incomplete information, I could still come up with a way to solve the problem. It was not only natural to me; it was a joy as well. And, as I mentioned earlier, I really enjoy learning new things. Even though I graduated from college a semester early, I still completed a double major (math and education) as well as a minor in history. I ran out of time with that early graduation, or I would have completed an Economics minor as well. And this analytical/strategic/problem-solving ability has been a huge benefit to me in my professional life as well.

As for education, what better joy is there than passing that love of learning and, if possible, how to actually apply what one knows effectively to solve problems, to others as well? I found that I could help other people learn, and that I was pretty good at communicating to many different audiences. To this day, I do tutoring of adults through a program that works with immigrants and those studying for high-school equivalency or life skills. One of the great things about working with others is not only does one teach them but one can learn so much.

5. What about interest in operations research connected to the educational background of mathematics and education?

Operations research was a natural fit for the way my brain works. It’s mathematical modelling to solve business problems. I started at Wharton expecting to be a finance major, but as soon as I started the required O/R course (part of the core curriculum for all MBA candidates) I realized it was just FUN! While I no longer use much in the way of those actual techniques, the study of it and the few years that I worked in that field, contributes every day to my approach to problem-solving.

6. You remain a member of the Fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society (FCAS) and member of the American Academy of Actuaries (MAAA).[6] What benefits and purposes come from membership in these organizations?

I have worked at least partly in the actuarial field since 1985, and achieved my ACAS/MAAA in 1995 and my FCAS in 1997. The designations allow me to practice in the actuarial field, and do the things a designated actuary can do (that an aspiring actuary is not qualified to do.) The designations as extremely well-known in the insurance industry, and in many cases pre-requisites for certain positions. I intend to maintain them for as long as I have any involvement or interest in working in the insurance industry.

7. You held a number of positions, as follows: NNIC (1987-1991) as an actuarial assistant, Hanover Insurance (December, 1991-March, 1999) as a director, William M. Mercer, Inc. (April, 1999-September 1999) as a principal, Firemans Fund Insurance Company (April, 2000-May, 2005) as a regional actuary and finance director, Allianz Global Risks US (June, 2005-December, 2005) as a vice president and chief actuary, NH Insurance Department (November, 2006-July, 2010) as a P & C assistant actuary, RiverStone Resources (August, 2010-January, 2011) as a vice president and chief actuary, NH Insurance Department (February, 2011-June, 2012) as a P & C assistant actuary, NH Insurance Department (July, 2012-May, 2014) as a actuary and director of market regulation, and NH Insurance Department (May, 2014-July, 2015) as a director of financial regulation.[7] With this background in mind, what particular lessons came from the experience as an actuary?

Experience as an actuary has taught me a lot. It solidified my love for and appreciation of creative, analytical problem-solving. In order to do the job in the best way I could, I felt that it was necessary to understand not only actuarial techniques and methods, but also the entire spectrum of insurance and how it works. So I learned all I could. It has given me a network or thoughtful, insightful and intelligent folks that I can rely on to help me out when I met something in my professional life that I needed help with. Being a working actuary also exposed me to the new methods and ideas that have come along over my more than 30 years in the industry – I get to keep learning new things, and learning and applying things in way that help others, whether they are friends, colleagues, management of my company or clients.

In addition, because I am a person with a more strategic view of the world and the ability to apply my knowledge and skills in different arenas, I have been fortunate enough to have expanded my horizons beyond just the actuarial side. I have worked in finance, as an underwriting director, as an insurance executive in charge of a ‘Small Business’ unit, I have been an insurance regulator, I am a partner in a real estate investment business and also a new real estate company and I now run a business as a private consultant covering actuarial, risk managements and business.

8. What general lessons came from experience throughout these diverse, but associated, professional stations?

The lessons one learns are myriad, but here are a few of the things that I think about:

  • Never give up – there is always another way to address a problem, issue or situation.
  • Nothing happens in isolation. Always try to think strategically – what are the implications of what you are doing or saying?
  • Take joy in what you do, and leverage that into better work and better relationships.
  • Don’t get into an analysis/paralysis situation – at some point it’s necessary to make a decision and take action.
  • Don’t be afraid of making mistakes; that’s how one learns. If you never make a mistake, you aren’t taking enough risk. (And that’s from a risk professional).
  • Always look to learn something new. And welcome challenges; we learn through them.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Chair (2015, July), AMC (National Board of Directors), American Mensa; Owner (2015, August), Stone Business & Risk Consulting LLC.

[2] Individual Publication Date: September 8, 2016 at www.in-sightjournal.com; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2017 at https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

[3] Thompson River University (1986-1988); Douglas College (1984-1986); Kamloops Senior Secondary.

[4] Photograph courtesy of Deb Stone.

[5] LinkedIn. (2016). Deb Stone. Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/in/deb-stone-9578395.

[6] LinkedIn. (2016). Deb Stone. Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/in/deb-stone-9578395.

[7] LinkedIn. (2016). Deb Stone. Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/in/deb-stone-9578395.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Deb Stone (Part One) [Online].September 2016; 12(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-deb-stone-part-one.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2016, September 8). An Interview with Deb Stone (Part One)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-deb-stone-part-one.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Deb Stone (Part One)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 12.A, September. 2016. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-deb-stone-part-one>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2016. “An Interview with Deb Stone (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 12.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-deb-stone-part-one.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Deb Stone (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 12.A (September 2016). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-deb-stone-part-one.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2016, ‘An Interview with Deb Stone (Part One)’In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 12.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-deb-stone-part-one>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2016, ‘An Interview with Deb Stone (Part One)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 12.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-deb-stone-part-one.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Deb Stone (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 12.A (2016):September. 2016. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-deb-stone-part-one>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Deb Stone (Part One) [Internet]. (2016, September; 12(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-deb-stone-part-one.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with Lois Volk, M.A.

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 12.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Eight)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: September 1, 2016

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2017

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 3,142

ISSN 2369-6885

Lois Volk.jpg

Abstract

An Interview with Lois Volk, M.A. She discusses: geographic, cultural, and linguistic family background; influence on development; influences and pivotal moments in personal history; origination of interest in executive leadership; origination of interest in entrepreneurship; common sense aspects of mortgage brokerages based on 25 years of experience; less common and important knowledge about mortgages for the general public; things involved in advice to clients on new properties or refinancing; tasks and responsibilities of specializations; services to clients; tasks and responsibilities of previous work positions; Invis’s differences from other companies; personal and professional lessons from Personal Choice Mortgage Services Inc., TD Canada Trust, and Invis; tasks and responsibilities with CAWEE; CAWEE integration of the disparate and diverse female executives and entrepreneurs in Canada; Budget targets $5 million for female entrepreneurs  (2015) and the probable outcome of the millions of dollars; answers to queries from the publications; the possibility of net benefit to women executives and entrepreneurs in the short- and long-term; unique aspects of being a woman executive and entrepreneur; advice for upcoming women executives; and advice for well-established executive and entrepreneur women to optimize performance.

Keywords: Canadian, entrepreneurs, executives, Lois Volk, women.

An Interview with Lois Volk, M.A.[1],[2],[3],[4]

*Footnotes in and after the interview, and bibliography & citation style listing after the interview.*

1. In terms of geography, culture, and language, where does your family background reside?

I was born and raised in rural Saskatchewan.  My parents were second generation Canadians of German descent.  They were devout Roman Catholic and religion played a large part in my upbringing.

Saskatchewan was settled mainly by central European immigrants who wanted a better life for their children.  Most of them were farmers who were lured to the prairies by the promise of free land in the early 1900s. It was hard work in an inhospitable climate that brought frigid temperatures, snow storms, damaging hail and drought.  They wanted a better life for their children and my grandparents were among many who valued education and encouraged my father to go to university and become a teacher.

2. How did this influence development?

My mother taught for a year before marrying my father and raising a family.  I was the second of seven children born within 10 years.  We shared the housework from an early age and I started babysitting at 13 to begin earning money of my own.

3. What about influences and pivotal moments in major cross-sections of early life including kindergarten, elementary school, junior high school, high school, and undergraduate studies (college/university)?

Kindergarten wasn’t offered in the small community I lived in when beginning school.  My father was the principal of the rural school I attended until the age of ten and superintendent during the rest of my schooling.  Academic excellence was expected.

4. Where did interest in executive leadership in general originate for you?

Throughout my career as a mortgage broker I have usually worked on my own.  On one occasion I attempted to head up a team of brokers but soon realized my skills did not include management or leadership.

My leadership role in CAWEE was not premeditated.  I joined the Canadian Association of Women Executives and Entrepreneurs (CAWEE) over four years ago to expand my business contacts.   I volunteered to work on the membership committee, served as the Director of Membership for a year and was then asked to consider the role of President.  I certainly did not have my sight set on leading the Board but I was committed to supporting the group and decided to accept the challenge.

5. What about interest in entrepreneurship in particular?

After university I worked for provincial and municipal governments in research/administrative positions for six years and decided that I would be happier in a profession that offered better compensation for more effort and came with greater challenges.  On moving to Toronto in 1987 I applied for, and was accepted into a mortgage broker trainee position.  I loved the business and was able to build my contacts and client base quickly thanks to an active real estate market in the late 1980s.

6. You self-summarize, as follows:

Lois Volk is a mortgage broker with over 25 years’ experience in the GTA. She provides professional confidential service and expert mortgage advice to clients who are purchasing new properties or refinancing. Her areas of specialization include residential and commercial mortgages, pre-approvals, rental properties, self-employed borrowers, new immigrants, poor credit, debt consolidation, and home equity lines of credit. With access to mortgage products from over 40 lenders including banks, trust companies, mortgage corporations and private sources she will find the best mortgage solution for any borrower. And better yet, her services are paid for by the lenders so there is not cost to the borrower![5]

This gives grounds for some general questions in relation to personal expertise. To begin, what core aspects of mortgages, based on 25 years of mortgage broker experiences, seem of import to the general public – common sense from years of experience?

I feel it is most important to listen to your clients and understand their goals in order to be a successful mortgage broker.  Are they looking for a cheaper option than paying rent?  Do they want to make money in real estate?  Do they want a home for their family, now or in the future?  Do they want to be debt free as soon as possible?  If they already own a home are they borrowing money to renovate, invest or consolidate debt?  It is important to address these concerns throughout the mortgage approval.

I believe it is essential for my clients who are purchasing their first home to fully comprehend the responsibilities of owning a home with a mortgage.  A mortgage is likely the biggest debt they will ever have and they have to be able to handle the payments plus other household expenses including property taxes, utilities, maintenance and possibly condo fees.  In this low interest rate environment it’s important that they are aware of the impact of potentially higher interest rates and payments at renewal.

My goal is to help them choose a mortgage that offers a good rate for a term appropriate to their long term plans and with the most flexible features.  They also have to look ahead and seriously consider future changes to their financial situation.  For example, first time buyers planning a family will face reduced income during maternity leave followed by many years of daycare expenses.

7. What less common knowledge about mortgages seem of importance to the general public – for them to know about it?

Several lenders now register their mortgages as collateral charges which means they cannot be switched to another financial institution without incurring legal fees. This prevents many borrowers from being able to look for a better rate when they renew.  These mortgages often cannot be transferred to another property without paying penalties and additional legal fees.

Many borrowers are also not aware of how the penalty for early repayment is calculated.  For fixed rate mortgages the penalty is usually either three months interest or interest rate differential, whichever is greater.  The differential has to be carefully explained because it can be significant if interest rates drop during the term.  Depending on the size of the mortgage and the remaining term the penalties can be in the tens of thousands of dollars.

8. What is involved in “confidential service and expert mortgage advice to clients who are purchasing new properties or refinancing”?[6]

It’s important that my clients trust me to respect their privacy and keep their personal information confidential.

I have access to mortgage products from over 40 institutional lenders from which I will choose a few lenders that offer competitive rates and flexible features that suit my clients’ needs and from this short list I will help my clients select the most appropriate lender.  I have to keep up to date on changes in the lending guidelines of individual lenders and government legislation pertaining to mortgage lending.

9. Your “areas of specialization include residential and commercial mortgages, pre-approvals, rental properties, self-employed borrowers, new immigrants, poor credit, debt consolidation, and home equity lines of credit.”[7] What tasks and responsibilities come with these specializations?

Offering a wide range of services ensures that I can best help my clients.  It also increases the referral sources I can approach such as realtors, immigration lawyers, accountants, credit counselling services and home renovators.

10. You have “access to mortgage products from over 40 lenders including banks, trust companies, mortgage corporations and private sources…”[8] For those without the background knowledge about the terminology and conceptual associations involved in this statement, what does this mean, and involve in terms of services for clients?

Although most mortgage lenders offer similar terms and conditions there are often subtle differences in the underwriting guidelines. It’s imperative for me to know the differences so I can ensure my clients’ applications will be approved quickly.

Service levels vary between lenders and I choose lenders that provide fast response times, consistent underwriting decisions and excellent client support after the mortgage closes.

Many of the lenders I work with offer a limited range of products and some specialize in mortgages only.  These lenders often rely on mortgage brokers for most of their business and provide high service levels and competitive rates.

Over the past few years new legislation has made it more difficult for self-employed individuals to find financing with the best rates and terms, particularly if their income after business deductions is low.  Self-employed borrowers often come to me after their mortgage applications are declined by their own banks.  They may be able to qualify with ‘B’ lenders that are willing to accept more risk for higher rates and fees.

Private mortgages are also provided by individuals who are willing to accept even great risk for higher returns. They may entertain mortgages for borrowers with low income or poor credit and for sub-standard properties.

11. Your previous posts include mortgage broker at Personal Choice Mortgage Services Inc. (1995 to 1996), mortgage consultant at TD Canada Trust (1996 to 2003), and director of membership at Canadian Association of Women Executives and Entrepreneurs (June, 2013 to June, 2014).[9] What tasks and responsibilities came with these posts?

With Personal Choice Mortgage Services I was a mortgage broker in the same capacity as I am now at Invis.  I decided to more to Invis, a much larger company, for better administrative and marketing support.

At TD Canada Trust my position was similar but I could only offer TD Canada Trust products.

As Director of Membership for CAWEE my responsibilities included ensuring guests were welcomed at all events, promoting membership in CAWEE,  reviewing membership applications and presenting them to the board for approval, and hosting the monthly networking breakfast meetings.

12. Now, you are a mortgage broker for Invis (2004 to the present).[10] What differentiates Invis from other companies?

I chose Invis because I was impressed with the management team and I have remained happy with how they have continued to enhance their broker services to remain current with new trends in the market.  Many of the other large brokers now offer only a franchise model but Invis continues to support individual brokers and small teams.

13. What consistent personal and professional lessons emerge from time across the three separate business: Personal Choice Mortgage Services Inc., TD Canada Trust, and Invis?

In order to succeed in this business, it is essential to:

– always have a business plan

– maintain thorough knowledge of lenders’ policies and products

– keep in touch with referral sources and existing clients on a regular basis

– network regularly to increase business contacts

– remember to always thank clients, lenders and referral sources.

14. At the same time as a mortgage broker for Invis, you hold the status of president of the Canadian Association of Women Executives and Entrepreneurs (C.A.W.E.E.).[11],[12] In correspondence, you noted the volunteer nature of this position. What does this position involve in terms of task and responsibilities – especially in light of its volunteer nature as a formal national collective?

CAWEE is a not-for-profit organization so all board members are volunteers.

As president of CAWEE I am responsible for managing the board which includes chairing our monthly board meetings and assisting the board members in fulfilling their duties.  I also represent CAWEE at our own events and when attending functions sponsored by other agencies.

15. How does C.A.W.E.E. integrate the numerous disparate and diverse female executives and entrepreneurs, and their associated perspectives, in such a large land nation as Canada?

Although the name implies that it is national at this time we represent only the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

16. Budget targets $5 million for female entrepreneurs (2015) describes a massive, recent, investment in female entrepreneurship at a target investment of $5,000,000.[13] Even further, the budget had $700,000,000 to “support women-owned businesses.”[14] Astutely, you had queries for both sets of millions of dollars. You had curiosity about the developing plans. As noted in the article, it stated:

“I’m just very curious about how they’ll be developing their plans and who they will be targeting. Five million dollars these days doesn’t seem to be a lot of money,” Volk said.

The budget also mentioned $700 million in financing over three years from the Business Development Bank of Canada to support women-owned businesses. That project isn’t new money.

But BDBC spokeswoman Daniela Pizzuto said she expects it will allow between 300 and 400 more loans to businesses that are majority-owned by women.

Volk said she was surprised that the BDBC would have a special fund set aside for women, and that more information on the programming is needed.

“Why would women be applying for this program and not others? Are the criteria different for women or for men? Are the interest rates different?” she wondered.[15]

What seems like the probable outcome of these millions of dollars with one year of hindsight?

CAWEE hasn’t monitored the results of these programs because most of our members operate small businesses with limited financing requirements.

The association began in 1987 as the Canadian Association of Women Executives and was more politically motivated to improve the status of women in the work place and to lobby for greater presence in the board room.  Over the years the membership has changed to include entrepreneurs and the organization changed the focus to building relationships and away from political lobbying.

17. What about the answers to the astute queries from the publication from you – regarding why women, what criteria, what interest rates, and so on?

Although I welcome any form of support for female entrepreneurs, the press release by the Status of Women did not provide any details of the funding and I couldn’t help being a bit skeptical that it was little more than political rhetoric.

18. Do initiatives to support women-owned businesses seem a net benefit to women executives and entrepreneurs, and the local, provincial, and national economy, in the short- and long-term?

Of course, initiatives that help women in business will have short and long term benefits to the economy.  It is also important that women entrepreneurs are made aware of these initiative and take advantage of them.

19. What unique aspects of executive status and entrepreneurship come with being a woman in these areas of Canadian life compared to others, and in contrast to men (if different)?

Many CAWEE members are in professions where women are respected and treated equally but they are more comfortable developing business with other women.  The support and encouragement of the CAWEE community will help our members be more confident when working in male-dominated business circles.

20. For those upcoming executive and entrepreneurial women, any advice for their increased probabilities of success?

For entrepreneurs it is important to understand their personal strengths, to have a clear vision of what they want to accomplish and to manage their time carefully.  They have to be able to ‘sell’ their services or products so business development activities, including networking, must be regularly scheduled.

21. What about those well-established executive and entrepreneurial women to optimize their performance in their respective professional sectors?

Surround yourself with people you admire and respect and continue to learn from them.

Thank you for your time, Lois.

Bibliography

  1. Canadian Association for Women Executives and Entrepreneurs. (2016). Canadian Association for Women executives and Entrepreneurs. Retrieved from http://cawee.net/.
  2. (2016). Lois Volk. Retrieved from https://ca.linkedin.com/in/lois-volk-16976613.
  3. Winter, J. (2015, May 6). Budget targets $5 million for female entrepreneurs. Retrieved from http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/budget-targets-5-million-for-female-entrepreneurs.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Mortgage Broker, Invis; President, Canadian Association of Women Executives and Entrepreneurs.

[2] Individual Publication Date: September 1, 2016 at www.in-sightjournal.com; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2017 at www.in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

[3] M.A., University of Regina.

[4] Photograph courtesy of Lois Volk.

[5] LinkedIn. (2016). Lois Volk. Retrieved from https://ca.linkedin.com/in/lois-volk-16976613.

[6] LinkedIn. (2016). Lois Volk. Retrieved from https://ca.linkedin.com/in/lois-volk-16976613.

[7] LinkedIn. (2016). Lois Volk. Retrieved from https://ca.linkedin.com/in/lois-volk-16976613.

[8] LinkedIn. (2016). Lois Volk. Retrieved from https://ca.linkedin.com/in/lois-volk-16976613.

[9] LinkedIn. (2016). Lois Volk. Retrieved from https://ca.linkedin.com/in/lois-volk-16976613.

[10] LinkedIn. (2016). Lois Volk. Retrieved from https://ca.linkedin.com/in/lois-volk-16976613.

[11] LinkedIn. (2016). Lois Volk. Retrieved from https://ca.linkedin.com/in/lois-volk-16976613.

[12] Canadian Association for Women Executives and Entrepreneurs. (2016). Retrieved from http://cawee.net/.

[13] Winter, J. (2015, May 6). Budget targets $5 million for female entrepreneurs. Retrieved from http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/budget-targets-5-million-for-female-entrepreneurs.

[14] Winter, J. (2015, May 6). Budget targets $5 million for female entrepreneurs. Retrieved from http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/budget-targets-5-million-for-female-entrepreneurs.

[15] Winter, J. (2015, May 6). Budget targets $5 million for female entrepreneurs. Retrieved from http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/budget-targets-5-million-for-female-entrepreneurs.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Lois Volk, M.A. [Online].September 2016; 12(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-lois-volk-m-a.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2016, September 1). An Interview with Lois Volk, M.A.Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-lois-volk-m-a.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Lois Volk, M.A.In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 12.A, September. 2016. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-lois-volk-m-a>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2016. “An Interview with Lois Volk, M.A..” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 12.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-lois-volk-m-a.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Lois Volk, M.A..” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 12.A (September 2016). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-lois-volk-m-a.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2016, ‘An Interview with Lois Volk, M.A.In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 12.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-lois-volk-m-a>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2016, ‘An Interview with Lois Volk, M.A.In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 12.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-lois-volk-m-a.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Lois Volk, M.A..” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 12.A (2016):September. 2016. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-lois-volk-m-a>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Lois Volk, M.A. [Internet]. (2016, September; 12(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-lois-volk-m-a.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with Associate Professor Stavroula Kousteni (Part Three)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 11.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Seven)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: August 22, 2016

Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2016

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,260

ISSN 2369-6885

2016-08-07_Jacobsen S.D._An Interview with Associate Professor Stavroula Kousteni.JPG

Abstract

An interview with Associate Professor Stavroula Kousteni. She discusses: skeletal system as the endocrine system; glucose homeostasis; human symptoms similar to mice models; most appealing social philosophy; most appealing economic philosophy; bad science, pseudoscience, and non-science, or misinformation, with respect to medicine and improvement of the public discourse and knowledge of science; and concluding feelings and thoughts.

Keywords: economic philosophy, endocrine, science, skeleton, social philosophy, Stavroula Kousteni.

An Interview with Associate Professor Stavroula Kousteni: Associate Professor, Physiology and Cellular Biophysics, Columbia University (Part Three)[1],[2],[3],[4]

*Footnotes throughout the interview, and bibliography and citation style listing after the interview.*

12. One implication is that the skeletal system is part of the endocrine system as well. 

This research theme is explored by the other half of my lab. This work was started by another investigator in the bone field, Dr. Gerard Karsenty. He was the first one that showed, back in 2007, that a hormone secreted specifically by osteoblasts called osteocalcin, improves glucose metabolism, and insulin production and sensitivity. In fact, his lab has done a lot of work to integrate bone into an endocrine system, which includes the pancreas and other glucose regulating organs such as the liver or adipose tissue.

My lab has tried to identify new hormones that are secreted by osteoblasts and regulate novel aspects of energy metabolism. We found one that regulates insulin secretion from the pancreas and appetite.  The function of bone as an endocrine organ that regulates whole body metabolism has now expanded to other unanticipated functions: such as male fertility and cognition.

13. When you state that it has serious implications for blood glucose, then that relates to the pancreas, the liver, fatty or adipose tissue, male fertility, and cognition, each of those areas has, at least, some relation to glucose metabolism. How does this relate to keeping blood glucose stable? In other words, blood glucose homeostasis among other things.

When we make mice that lack this hormone from the osteoblast, the mutant mice have higher blood glucose levels and lower insulin levels, than normal mice, a combination that is not good. (Laughs) If there is not enough insulin in the body, cells do not get a signal to import glucose. The mice become glucose intolerant because they do not metabolize glucose well. Also, when they eat or when they eat a high-fat diet, they gain more weight than they would if they did not lack the hormone. This metabolic abnormality shows that the hormone is required for glucose homeostasis.

14. When I think about it, it is early. Those reports were put out at the same time. There has been further research done.[5] With that in mind, you have seen some of the other ‘correlations-of-action’, say, to the areas stated by you. Cognition, male fertility, adipose tissue, and so on, are there people that don’t have the gene or it’s not upregulated for them – and so they start to show symptoms similar to the mice?

Translation of mouse models into human systems is complex. To simplify, there are two ways to do it. One is through correlative studies. You have two groups of people. You have one group that is healthy. You say, “Okay, this one has a healthy level of these hormones.” I am going to measure the level of these hormones in both groups. What are the levels in normal people and diabetics?

Those studies are indicative, not mechanistic. This has been done for the osteocalcin work. Many studies show osteocalcin levels have an inverse correlation with glucose levels in humans. Higher osteocalcin levels correlate with insulin sensitivity. The second approach is by genetic means. You can search for mutations in the protein of interest by screening the DNA of a large population. If a mutation can be found, then we see if the people bearing the mutation have metabolic abnormalities.

Because hormones are important for homeostasis and for survival, it is uncommon to find mutations in them, presumably the body develops protective mechanisms to preclude them. Therefore, if the receptors through which the hormones work is known, we search for mutations in the receptor. The Karsenty group has done this for the osteocalcin receptor and found mutations in it that affect fertility in males.

15. What social philosophy most appeals to you?

In general, I believe in giving, if I could describe in one simple word for a lot of personal beliefs: giving. I consider myself lucky to be where I am and do what I love. I think that it is our responsibility – at least that’s how I view myself – to be citizens in a place where we are able to do what we want to do, to teach it, to pass it to other people, and to help them understand how to do it better.

To help in any way that we can in whatever area we are more sensitive to, especially in an area where we are more sensitive to; for example, my country, Greece, among other troubles lives through and deals firsthand with an immediate crisis. We’ve had thousands of refugees embarking on vessels of despair and too often losing their lives in efforts to escape to Greece. I am very sensitive to that. My 16-year old son and I belong to different organizations who actively try to help the immigrants.

I’m very sensitive to women’s issues. Women face very challenging and often rehabilitating issues in many different aspects that affect their personal and professional life, their physical and emotional wellbeing.  I am trying to understand this problem within the environment I work, and function and give/help to alleviate them as much as I can. That is my main philosophy, social philosophy, very simplified: give. Teach what you’re best at doing, inspire people to do it, and then help with what you’re more sensitive to. The world has many problems, but we’re all sensitive to it in different ways. Find that niche, find that area, and contribute to it.

16. What economic philosophy most appeals to you?

People should be rewarded for what they do and how much they try. Part of this is financial reward, but I don’t believe in exploiting it. I don’t believe in its extreme case.

17. There’s a lot of bad science, pseudoscience, and non-science with respect to medicine. Many citizens take these false medical services for fatal health problems and at times die without proper medical care. To solve this problem of public ignorance of science, cynical exploitation of the ignorance by non-scientists and non-medical professionals, and the demarcation of good medical care from bad medical care, what can be done?

I don’t know if you can call it bad science, but you can definitely call it misinformation. It is usually people without appropriate expertise who make wrong associations, the wrong correlations, and present them in the wide public. The only means to overcome this problem is with an abundance of the correct information. Means that scientific research can be translated into lay language for the public on the impact of the findings on their whole and not in partiality.

For example, we live in an era when certain patients can be offered the opportunity to have their genome sequenced looking for mutations that may help to more precisely characterize their disease and to in turn offer clues for how to treat it. This is the concept of Precision Medicine. That is, medicine tailored to address the personal needs of a patient.  Patients should be informed about it. They should understand the possibilities and limitations. The same approach should be followed to inform patients about new discoveries with clinical applications relevant to their disease, especially if such applications are available and easy to acquire.

Large medical institutions with substantial research where knowledge is actively shared and discussed daily tend to do that. Same with many scientific societies. For example, the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research has task forces whose role is to outreach its members and through this process raise awareness and update its medical membership on new guidelines and treatment options for bone and bone-related diseases.

Also, it provides free access to the public to an online Educational Research Center that has links to disease descriptions, recommendations for treatment, explanations of the disease, and links that take you to what is most recently known or published about it. There is a large research feed that one can go through. The American Society of Hematology is doing it the same things for a very large number of patients who suffer from different types of hematological diseases and malignancies.  In general, scientific societies are working to get the information to the patients in an easily and freely accessible manner.

18. Any feelings or thoughts in conclusion?

I think we have reached an era in terms of research and methodologies that we have amazing tools in our hands to ask important and difficult but better informed questions about the pathogenesis of many diseases that were thought of as incurable. Also, we have new tools and methods to target them. The face of research is changing too. It is extremely exciting too. In contrast to the past, if you did work that was quality and satisfying to work in and with your lab, you will see now that the most important discoveries and comprehensive works involve teams of investigators with a lot of different types of expertise.

They are cell biologists, mouse geneticists, human geneticists, biostatisticians, and so on. We live in a time that is both exciting and inspiring to see how many possibilities we have to think about the pathogenesis of disease. In a time that it is very important and crucial to work collaboratively to interrogate every problem from different perspectives, whether those involve samples from mice or humans, or cross-discipline expertise. If we keep doing it, I cannot wait to see how many discoveries we will reach in understanding disease pathogenesis and how much we can do it treating them. I live in this time. It is an exciting time to live in.

Thank you for your time, Professor Kousteni.

Bibliography

  1. Columbia University. (2016). Kousteni, Stavroula, Ph.D. Retrieved from http://www.physiology.columbia.edu/Stavroula.html.
  2. Columbia University Medical Center. (2014, January 21). Common Blood Cancer May Be Initiated by Single Mutation in Bone Cells. Retrieved from http://newsroom.cumc.columbia.edu/blog/2014/01/21/common-blood-cancer-may-initiated-single-mutation-bone-cells/.
  3. Columbia University Medical Center. (2014, January 22). Potential Drug Target Found for Common Blood Cancer. Retrieved from http://www.dddmag.com/news/2014/01/potential-drug-target-found-common-blood-cancer.
  4. News-Medical.Net. (2014, January 21). Mutation in bone cells may cause acute myeloid leukemia: Study. Retrieved from http://www.news-medical.net/news/20140121/Mutation-in-bone-cells-may-cause-acute-myeloid-leukemia-Study.aspx.
  5. Waknine, Y. (2014, January 27). Hit the Cancer Where It Lives: A New Approach to Treating AML. Retrieved from http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/819764.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Associate Professor, Physiology and Cellular Biophysics, Columbia University.

[2] Individual Publication Date: August, 22 2016 at www.in-sightjournal.com; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2016 at https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

[3] Ph.D., Cardiff University.

[4] Photograph courtesy of Professor Stavroula Kousteni.

[5] The long term goal is to find out the pathogenesis of degenerative diseases for therapies. The endocrine system is a collection of glands that produces hormones. These hormones regulate numerous bodily processes including metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, sleep, and so on. Osteoblasts are cells that form bones. Myelodysplasia (MDS) is the ineffective production of blood cells. Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is the cancer of blood and bone marrow.

Professor Kousteni’s research has narrowed into the bone-specific hormone osteocalcin, which is transcription-regulated by osteoblast-expressed FoxO1. It became an inference to the osteoblast as an endocrine cell. That is, the bones as the endocrine system. Now, Kousteni looking into the receptor, and other functions and mechanisms, for osteocalcin.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Associate Professor Stavroula Kousteni (Part Three) [Online].August 2016; 11(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-associate-professor-stavroula-kousteni-part-three.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2016, August 22). An Interview with Associate Professor Stavroula Kousteni (Part Three)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-associate-professor-stavroula-kousteni-part-three.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Associate Professor Stavroula Kousteni (Part Three)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 11.A, August. 2016. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-associate-professor-stavroula-kousteni-part-three>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2016. “An Interview with Associate Professor Stavroula Kousteni (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 11.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-associate-professor-stavroula-kousteni-part-three.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Associate Professor Stavroula Kousteni (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 11.A (August 2016). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-associate-professor-stavroula-kousteni-part-three.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2016, ‘An Interview with Associate Professor Stavroula Kousteni (Part Three)’In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 11.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-associate-professor-stavroula-kousteni-part-three>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2016, ‘An Interview with Associate Professor Stavroula Kousteni (Part Three)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 11.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-associate-professor-stavroula-kousteni-part-three.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Associate Professor Stavroula Kousteni (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 11.A (2016):August. 2016. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-associate-professor-stavroula-kousteni-part-three>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Associate Professor Stavroula Kousteni (Part Three) [Internet]. (2016, August); 11(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-associate-professor-stavroula-kousteni-part-three.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with Associate Professor Stavroula Kousteni (Part Two)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 11.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Seven)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: August 15, 2016

Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2016

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,612

ISSN 2369-6885

2016-08-07_Jacobsen S.D._An Interview with Associate Professor Stavroula Kousteni.JPG

Abstract

An interview with Associate Professor Stavroula Kousteni. She discusses: tasks and responsibilities with professorship; the Women’s Commission Committee and helping solve women’s problems; greatest emotional struggle in personal and professional life; and skeletal influences on physiological processes.

Keywords: professorship, Stavroula Kousteni, women.

An Interview with Associate Professor Stavroula Kousteni: Associate Professor, Physiology and Cellular Biophysics, Columbia University (Part Two)[1],[2],[3],[4]

*Footnotes throughout the interview, and bibliography and citation style listing after the interview.*

7. You are the Associate Professor in Physiology and Cellular Biophysics at Columbia University. What tasks and responsibilities come with this position? For instance, the training and outside of research.

There is training. A big part is to train students and post-doctoral researchers that come into the lab. It is hands-on training. It is teaching them how to do research, how to recognize problems, what questions to pose, how to form hypotheses, and then what is very important is how to read the results.

People can look at the same set of results and derive different interpretations. You can look at the result. You can make the result fit the hypothesis. Or even if the experiment didn’t work, you can see is that it doesn’t fit the hypothesis. But if you look at your results, you can see hidden things. This is my favourite part. I take the raw data – everybody’s raw data. They do an assay at the spectrophotometer.

They generate numbers, numbers, numbers, numbers. I look at the numbers in groups. I can look at them for days sometimes, especially when something does not exactly fit. When you do that, you can see connections that you did not expect were there. You can see possibilities that can change your hypotheses to a greater or lesser extent, and often to more exciting directions.  I tell my trainees: keep your eyes and minds open to discover new connections. In the past, I had people in the lab say, “This is not possible.”

When that new “that” was looking at them straight in the eye, I told them that this is not the place for them. If I cannot teach you that many things are possible, then this is not the place for you. Another part of my training responsibilities is to teach in courses that are run from different programs and departments. Those are different training program supported by the different Institutes of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

I co-direct one of those programs. An endocrinology training grant that is supported by the NIDDK. It is a grant from the NIH. It has a specific fellowship for pre-docs and post-docs. So, the program tries to place them, support them with money, train them in endocrinology – a holistic view. Then there are the institutional groups we serve. For instance, I have been part of a task force with the aim to improve quality of life, communications, and working environment at the Campus.

I sat with a group of investigators and administrators. Our task was to define what areas needed to be improved in terms of facilities, provisions like childcare, and internships for older kids. Also, I serve on the senate for the Women’s Commission Committee. It is looking into identifying and resolving women’s issues, and to promote their recognition and opportunities in the university.

8. With regards to the Women’s Commission Committee, and women’s concerns and issues in the university, what are those? How can individuals, groups such as the commission or other groups in the university and other institutions solve those problems?

That women are able to perform their work with the same provisions, opportunities, and recognition as their male colleagues at the equal level. During the last few years, the university has made big steps towards this direction. More Deans and Center Directors are women than 5 years ago. Also, there are departments such as the Department of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics, the Department of Human Genetics and Development, that by looking at their faculty and faculty positions one can see that they are very supportive of women faculty. We are on a good track.

9. What seems like the greatest emotional struggle in professional or personal life?

First, in professional life, one of my struggles comes with the nature of our work. Lab trainees eventually complete their training cycle, close their project, publish, and move on to the next stage of their career.  It is an emotional struggle to lose good people among them. Imagine, you work for years to build a team and then every few years need to rebuild it. Sometimes, it feels like a wave when people leave together. Others join at the same time. Emotionally and practically, it is demanding. It takes skill, effort, and time to re-establish relationships and re-harmonize the lab functions.

The second struggle in professional life is funding. Running a lab is similar to running a small company because we need to continuously generate funds. At these times, as an investigator, you need to be resilient with the difficulties in obtaining NIH funding. To get funded, an investigator has to submit a project proposal that is reviewed by a scientific panel with relevant expertise put together by NIH officers.

In this process, we are effectively told whether what we do or propose to do has merit or not, if it is worth or not. This is an exercise in resilience. It’s a criticism of your ideas and approach. If you don’t get it in the end, you have to be able to say, “I’ll move on and put in another application.” Since NIH funding is limited now, this laborious process can be repeated several times and it hits success.

In personal life, I would say how to bring up my kids. That is the most emotionally intense experience for me.

10. How so?

In fact, it’s a challenge. It was a struggle because I spent a lot of time working rather than seeing them growing up. However, I realized the things that I could offer and teach them by behaviour, experience, and by being satisfied and fulfilled from my work. Those made the compromise worthwhile. It is a challenge considering that my knowledge and experiences go into it.

I have so many different cultures in me – growing up in one country and moving into another one while meeting so many people with different backgrounds and religious beliefs. I am a scientist and am used to observing. I am used to abstracting my ideas to construct rational lines of thinking of hypotheses and conclusions. I use all these expertise as way of teaching them how to be decent and inspired people. All of my energy outside work goes there. This effort is full of emotional charge for me. I want to help them understand how important it is to ask for things in life, how important it is to be inspired in life, and how important it is to have many experiences.

11. You have moderate representation in the media.[5],[6],[7],[8] The reports covered the research on Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). Your main research might be summarized as “[skeletal] functions in metabolism and hematopoiesis.”[9] It is a comprehensive research program with a distinct focus.[10] Let’s explore some of this research in-depth through some queries to you: what are the general influences of the skeleton on various physiological processes?

I was not satisfied looking at bone only as bone. For me, it was more exciting to understand how different organs interact with each other. I always wanted to enter the bone field. I was able to achieve that when I became an independent investigator. I want to know how these organ interactions maintain health. Normal every day physiological processes. This is alongside my interest in hematopoiesis and cancer. My work with Ellin and Azra made me focus to myeloid malignancies.

We started a project in the lab that was looking at simple things – to see if the skeleton and the bone-forming cells have any way of interacting or influencing leukemia. As we started doing the experiments, we realized that it did. There are signalling pathways that are triggered from osteoblasts that promote or halt the progress of leukemia. We started working on the pathways. As we were going forward, we asked whether there are any genetic differences. For example, mutations in osteoblasts that would not influence the progression of the disease alone, but could be as important as inducing it or altering its course.

That was much more far reaching because these two cell types – the leukemia cells and osteoblasts – come from different lineages. It was not thought that one could influence the fate of the other. The idea of a cell outside the hematopoietic lineage affecting myeloid malignancies was starting to surface. I decided to look extensively into it at that point. We examined a particular mouse model with a mutation on a protein that we thought could be a common link between hematopoiesis and osteoblast functions.

We found that when this mutation was present only in osteoblasts, at least in mice. It was by itself adequate to trigger the development of MDS. Then the disease quickly progresses into myeloid leukemia with all of its features of AML. If you take these bone marrow cells from these mice and transplant them into mice mouse, the healthy mice will also develop AML. With the help of Azra and Ellin, we screened a large cohort of patients with MDS and AML. To this time, we have screened 350 people, patients. We were interested to see if an AML inducing pathway like this was active in the osteoblasts of patients with MDS or AML.

We found that 30-35% of these patients had this pathway active, which suggested that it might be inducing AML in humans. We knew the signal transmitted from the osteoblast to the hematopoietic cell. It was turning this cell into a leukemic one. That meant that if we could block it, then we could block the disease. This was exciting because it could be a new means of dealing with MDS and AML. We would be targeting a leukemic signal originating from a cell (the osteoblast) that is stable, has a stable function, and does not change identity.

That is unlike leukemia cells. Those tend to accumulate different mutations or mutations develop mutations that make them resistant to chemotherapy or targeted treatments. We did this experiment in mice too. We used an antibody that blocked the pathway in osteoblasts. By doing that, it blocked the disease in mice. At this time, we are looking at other molecules and mutations in osteoblasts that may affect MDS and AML progression.

We are looking at interactive molecules. What is it that the osteoblast secretes to protect from that leukemia cell? So, we’re piercing the pathway together. We are trying to learn how these cells communicate, how you can interfere in these communication signals to take advantage of them – of one signal or the other – and make the bone a place that myeloid dysplasia can’t grow.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Associate Professor, Physiology and Cellular Biophysics, Columbia University.

[2] Individual Publication Date: August 15, 2016 at www.in-sightjournal.com; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2016 at https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

[3] Ph.D., Cardiff University.

[4] Photograph courtesy of Professor Stavroula Kousteni.

[5] Columbia University Medical Center. (2014, January 22). Potential Drug Target Found for Common Blood Cancer. Retrieved from http://www.dddmag.com/news/2014/01/potential-drug-target-found-common-blood-cancer.

[6] Waknine, Y. (2014, January 27). Hit the Cancer Where It Lives: A New Approach to Treating AML. Retrieved from http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/819764.

[7] Columbia University Medical Center. (2014, January 21). Common Blood Cancer May Be Initiated by Single Mutation in Bone Cells. Retrieved from http://newsroom.cumc.columbia.edu/blog/2014/01/21/common-blood-cancer-may-initiated-single-mutation-bone-cells/.

[8] News-Medical.Net. (2014, January 21). Mutation in bone cells may cause acute myeloid leukemia: Study. Retrieved from http://www.news-medical.net/news/20140121/Mutation-in-bone-cells-may-cause-acute-myeloid-leukemia-Study.aspx.

[9] Columbia University. (2016). Kousteni, Stavroula, Ph.D. Retrieved from http://www.physiology.columbia.edu/Stavroula.html.

[10] Kousteni, Stavroula, Ph.D. (2016) states:

Research Activities

The purpose of the research in my laboratory is to understand the influence of the skeleton on various physiological processes. The long term goal is to uncover the pathogenesis of degenerative diseases and to suggest novel and adapted therapies for them. Along these lines we are studying the function of bone as an endocrine organ regulating glucose metabolism and energy homeostasis and examining the role of osteoblasts in hematopoiesis with particular emphasis in myelodysplasia (MDS) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

Bone as an endocrine organ

Osteoblasts, the bone forming cells, have been shown previously to influence glucose metabolism through the secretion of a bone-specific hormone, osteocalcin. We found that the activity of osteocalcin is regulated transcriptionally by osteoblast-expressed FoxO1. These findings raised for us the question of the nature of the osteoblast as an endocrine cell, and more specifically whether it secretes other hormones regulating any aspect of energy metabolism. Using a genetic approach to this problem we identified a second osteoblast-specific hormone that affects glucose metabolism and insulin secretion. We are currently expanding this work, searching for its receptor and for other functions and mechanisms of action exerted by this hormone.

Detecting Interactions between Osteoblasts and Leukemia Blasts 

In current work, our lab has discovered a function of the skeleton, as an inducer of leukemogenesis. We identified a mutation in the osteoblast that disrupts hematopoiesis leading to leukemogenic transformation of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and establishment of MDS progressing to AML. The same mutation and signaling pathway were identified in more than a third of patients with MDS and AML. We have also found that osteoblasts affect engraftment of leukemia blasts. We are currently characterizing the signaling pathway that mediates these actions. This work may provide a rationale for using means to manipulate the osteoblast to make the hematopoietic niche hostile to residual leukemia cells. 

Columbia University. (2016). Kousteni, Stavroula, Ph.D. Retrieved from http://www.physiology.columbia.edu/Stavroula.html.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Associate Professor Stavroula Kousteni (Part Two) [Online].August 2016; 11(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-associate-professor-stavroula-kousteni-part-two.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2016, August 15). An Interview with Associate Professor Stavroula Kousteni (Part Two)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-associate-professor-stavroula-kousteni-part-two.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Associate Professor Stavroula Kousteni (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 11.A, August. 2016. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-associate-professor-stavroula-kousteni-part-two>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2016. “An Interview with Associate Professor Stavroula Kousteni (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 11.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-associate-professor-stavroula-kousteni-part-two.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Associate Professor Stavroula Kousteni (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 11.A (August 2016). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-associate-professor-stavroula-kousteni-part-two.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2016, ‘An Interview with Associate Professor Stavroula Kousteni (Part Two)’, In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 11.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-associate-professor-stavroula-kousteni-part-two>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2016, ‘An Interview with Associate Professor Stavroula Kousteni (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 11.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-associate-professor-stavroula-kousteni-part-two.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Associate Professor Stavroula Kousteni (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 11.A (2016):August. 2016. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-associate-professor-stavroula-kousteni-part-two>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Associate Professor Stavroula Kousteni (Part Two) [Internet]. (2016, August); 11(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-associate-professor-stavroula-kousteni-part-two.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with Associate Professor Stavroula Kousteni (Part One)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 11.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Seven)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: August 8, 2016

Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2016

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 3,500

ISSN 2369-6885

2016-08-07_Jacobsen S.D._An Interview with Associate Professor Stavroula Kousteni.JPG

Abstract

An interview with Associate Professor Stavroula Kousteni. She discusses: familial geographic, cultural, and linguistic background; familial background influence on her; ancient and modern Greek texts that influenced her; reference to 1984; origination of interest in medicine; and interest in pathology and cell biology in particular.

Keywords: 1984, cell biology, medicine, pathology, Stavroula Kousteni.

An Interview with Associate Professor Stavroula Kousteni: Associate Professor, Physiology and Cellular Biophysics, Columbia University[1],[2],[3],[4]

*Footnotes throughout the interview and citation style listing after the interview.*

1. In terms of geography, culture, and language, where does your family background reside?

I was born in Athens, Greece until I went to college. It was in a city to the South on the Peloponnese. It’s called Patras, which is a port city. You need to take a boat if you want to travel from Greece to Italy. I was born in Athens. However, my culture is influenced by the island where my mother comes from, an island in the Dodecanese (the Twelve Islands), called Karpathos.

It is located between Rhodes and Crete. It is one of the most traditional islands in Greece. Its society is to a large extent governed by women. It has extremely strong roles for women in and outside the family. It has a culture that is friendly to people and celebratory of life. For example, every important event in the life of any person, whether it is engagement, marriage, or death, is usually communicated by a type of on-the-moment song, which is sung in the tune of the local instruments.

It is a way of living an emotionally intense and authentic life. It brings communication to a different level. It makes relationships between families closer. The villages on the island are small. Everyone is a ‘relative’. Many people moved to Athens after the war, formed an association, and bought a lot in the outskirts of Athens in a suburb at the North. Also, the land was divided among families who built houses and apartment buildings on it.

We lived in Karpathos. I grew in a very close, rich, and emotional community. It had a tremendous effect in my view of life. It’s my roots. It’s the place that gives me strength, sense of value, and teaches enjoyment and appreciation of life. I left this place to do a B.Sc. in Chemistry at the University of Patras in Greece. After that, I moved to the U.K. to University of Cardiff where I did my Ph.D. and a postdoctoral fellowship.

2. With respect to the “roots,” how did this familial background influence you?

First, it strengthened me as a woman in professional activities and family life. It was natural. It was expected that I would guide and create. Second, it taught me to form strong connections with an extended group of people. In early life, those were extended family. Cousins that were cousins of my cousins. To me, they were still cousins (!). It was a strong family bond that made us treat each other as brothers and sisters. When I left Greece, I sought to create a similar group of extended family.

Not friends alone. They were family by choice with a strong and supportive relationship. Third, it implanted a sense of optimism. So, I could crawl up unwavering. Even in the blackest days, when I really don’t want to know anything about still surviving (I would laugh here), I can get up. Also, the ways to express myself and celebrate life. Can you imagine if your sister is getting married and you start singing about what happened in her life? What happened in her past? What you hope for her? Most people sing and cry. However, a celebration of the life of the person and the relationship with them.

My personality and life were influenced by high school in Greece. High school is from grade 7 to grade 12. I took an exam. I was accepted to one of the academically prestigious schools called Anavryta. I have been one of those lucky people who knew very early. I wanted to do biomedical research. I was fascinated by science.

I have always been interested in biology, chemistry, and physics. However, I did not take these subjects in school. I took a rare and in-depth training in humanities and language arts, analysis of texts, Ancient Greek, Greek, new works of Greek authors, and world history. My mind learned to function through these years in that school. My language teachers were inspiring. They inspired us to think deep, analyze what we read, what we write, and how we think about life. That has shaped the way I see everything. It has shaped my style of science. As well, my will to be open-minded to understand different perspectives.

3. You mentioned Ancient Greek texts and some modern Greek texts were of influence for you. What were some of those?

Once we start learning Ancient Greek in 6th grade, we read a translation of The Iliad and The Odyssey. A smart way to introduce us to the Ancient Greek world since the main interest was to teach us the concepts, the notions, the intrigues, the emotional relationships, the political situations, and so on, behind these works. Also, we were taught the “Herodotus Tales.” Herodotus was born in Halicarnassus, in Asia Minor, in the fifth century B.C. and has been called the ‘Father of History’, because he wrote the first comprehensive attempt at secular narrative history, considered the starting point of Western historical writing.

We were immersed in stories about Persian Wars, Babylon, Egypt, and Thrace. Also, we read and analyzed texts from Socrates. I was stunned to find ancient Greek education in the United States. For a couple of months, we toured Columbia University for my son’s college visit. He was told that independent of the direction taken. All first year students across different courses and programs are taught The Iliad. (Laughs). Then we re-read most of them in Ancient Greek, along with Thucydides “History of the Peloponnesian War” that chronicled 30 years of war between Athens and Sparta.

Ancient Greek is a complex language. As a Greek, you can recognize several words, but the syntax in intricate and often hard put into context. In Modern Greek, we read a lot of poetry, the works of Odysseus Elytis, Konstantinos Kavafys, Giorgos Seferis. One of the favorite authors analyzed in detail was Antonis Samarakis, who in his writing put a lot of emphasis in the person as an individual. On the thinking process, the person’s thinking process can change due to events in that person’s life. We read his masterpiece “The Flaw,” which was written in 1965. It is eerily prophetic of the military dictatorship that followed in Greece

4. It’s like 1984. It’s based on events, but in a future time.

It is predictive of the future. It tells the story of a suspect detained in an unspecified police state. At an unspecified time, it examines the relationship between what seems to be a leftist, or communist perhaps captive, and his interrogator and detainer. Who is taking him to whoever he needs to go, the plan is devised by the state to make him attempt to escape, thereby proving his guilt, or confess to his anti-state crimes under interrogation. The flaw is the plan’s failure to allow for the human factor, the fellow-feeling that the interrogator develops for the suspect during their time together.

The captive and the interrogator become harmonized with each other. As the relationship develops, as they relate things more intimate to them, the hesitation and awkwardness develops because part of it is asking, “How much of this relationship is true? How much is one trying to manipulate the other?” We spent a lot of time analyzing how the protagonists express themselves in their relationships.

5. Where did interest in medicine in general originate for you?

When I was in elementary school, I wanted to be an astronaut, which is funny. However, when I finished wanting to be an astronaut, I wanted to be in medicine. I had an inspiration growing up. A great aunt, she was a dentist. For a woman in Greece to be a dentist and intellectual immediately after World War II, she was an admirably accomplished woman. I was fascinated by her dynamism. I was fascinated by the humanism of medicine. I saw that through her. However, I was  thinking, “For me, this is ot enough.”

I could see by talking with her, reading newspapers, and magazines. There were many incurable diseases. My focus shifted into understanding how it works. How do people get sick? How does disease start? How can disease be treated?  This is when my interest in cancer developed too. Cancer is such a complex multifactorial and ever-changing disease. How does it all happen? Suddenly, I remember visiting the Department of Biology in Athens in 8th grade. When we finished going through the labs, I thought, “This is what I want to do.” I want to do research. I want to do biology-oriented research.

I was lucky. It is hard to make a decision for what you want to do for the rest of your life when you are an adolescent. Colleges in Europe do not offer the range, diversity, and combinations in courses of US colleges. In Europe, you have to choose a specialty at 18 years old. So, I was lucky. I knew in 8th grade. Those were the years we read about major DNA discoveries, breakthroughs in molecular biology, manipulating the genome in model organisms, sheep (Dolly), and later mice. All of these discoveries seemed amazing to me. The possibilities seemed endless.

You can modify the DNA, delete parts of it, or edit it. You do this to ask questions about the function of specific genes in disease and in physiology. You can look inside the cells at molecules that communicate messages. In the early 80s, it was not possible to get trained in it in Greece. I decided to apply and was accepted in the Department of Chemistry in Patras University. It was a new Department. Then and now, it has an excellent teaching faculty. The only one with a good section in Biochemistry. Part of the section in biochemistry had a course in molecular Biology, it was a dream for me. I knew from that early 8th grade visit to the Department of Biology. I would have to go abroad to complete my studies and to do research. I could not wait to do so.

6. You found the real interest in medicine and chemistry, and not in being an astronaut…

(Laughs)

…What about pathology and cell biology in particular?

From my point of view, research can be done in two approaches. For one, it can be focused on a particular cell type or organ, which delineates its function and rules (the intracellular, intraorgan mechanisms) that regulate its fate and activity. For another, you can look at this organ from a plane view and study its integration into the whole body, which means the inter-organ communications and the transmitting signals that mediate them. In either case, you can be strictly molecular by staying focused on DNA changes and signaling events, or take a more translational/clinically applied spin by asking, “How do those apply to disease pathogenesis and to disease treatment?”

My scientific journey started with the first approach. It is now encompassing the latest. I entered the field of bone biology in 1999. I started by asking very cell focused questions: How do bone cells function? How do they maintain health and survival? How do they function to keep making bone or to resorb bone? How is this process regulated? I was looking at the specific cellular mechanism of the 3 different types of bone cells: 1) osteoblast that make bone, 2) osteoclasts that resorb bone, and 3) osteocytes that are entombed in the mineralizing of the matrix and communicate mechanical signals.

This is the more isolated view of an organ. I looked at bone as something more than an isolated island within the body. I look at it as an organ that should interact with other organs. We are used to thinking of the skeleton as a mechanical scaffold whose role is to help us grow, move around, and withstand the mechanical forces of daily life. This is one of its most amazing functions that it impressively fulfills by achieving complete renewal every 10 years. Every 10 years we have a new skeleton. However, it is not the only one. As the largest organ in the body, it makes sense that there are other roles.

I was interested in finding those. Also, I was interested in understanding how it interacts with other organs to regulate either normal physiological processes in a healthy organism or to regulate disease. My main interest is in disease pathogenesis. Where does disease start? What is the imbalance that makes a disease manifest? In following this approach, I have come to a point where I often say that I run a ‘schizophrenic’ lab. It deals with bone, but many other directions too. One direction is an unintended one. I had not envisioned it. It was something brought on by research.

When I moved to Columbia University in 2006, my lab was looking at a protein, FoxO1, which regulates bone mass in response to oxidative stress. In basic research, if you want to ask, “How does a protein work? Is its function important for a specific tissue?” You inactivate (knockout) the gene that makes the protein in mice and in this tissue. When we knocked out FoxO1 from bone and specifically osteoblasts, we created mutant mice that had a phenotype unrelated to bone mass. They had low blood glucose levels, high insulin levels, high glucose tolerance, which means that if they ate more and high fat food they did not gain weight.

In short, inactivation of a protein expressed in bone cells led in mice led to improved glucose metabolism. We followed this line of research and have subsequently generated several other genetic mouse models that serve to examine role of hormones produces by bone cells in the regulation of different aspects of energy metabolism. Half of my lab is working on these projects. The other half of the lab follows projects related to my fascination with cancer. I wanted to do this research for many, many years. Before I became an independent investigator, I was interested in hematological cancers. Because they are born, live, and thrive in the bone marrow within the bone, where hematopoiesis occurs and goes awry in such cancers, I was a hesitant in entering this vast field.

We started, shyly and cautiously, with an M.D. Ph.D. student, who did some of our initial experiments looking at how osteoblasts affect hematopoiesis. One day, an M.D. and clinical investigator Dr. Ellin Berman, from Memorial Sloan Kettering, met with me and asked if I would be interested to look whether osteoblasts affect leukemia blasts. I was thrilled. We started working on a small focused project with limited funding. Very soon Dr. Azra Raza, the head of the MDS Center at Columbia University and an amazing investigator, joined in these studies, which flourished, expanded, and drafted my new scientific identity: the study of the role of bone cells in the development of MDS and AML.

This line of research is close to my heart. An exciting part of our work is that that we are looking at MDS and AML from a different point of view. Traditionally, investigators look at hematological diseases like myeloid leukemia, myeloid dysplasia as dysregulations, genetic modifications, and mutations. All occurring in hematopoietic cells. These dysregulated cells turn malignant. We look at the disease from the point of view of completely different cells. They are not sisters, brothers, or parents of hematopoietic cells. They belong to a parallel lineage.

They are osteoblasts. They are supposed to originate from a distinct ancestor, which is different than the hematopoietic cells. We look at how osteoblasts affect the induction of myeloid malignancies. Their engraftment or progression. It is a new way to look at pathogenesis, or even treatment of MDS and AML. In fact, we found a different source of MDS and AML pathogenesis one that originates from the osteoblast. A cell outside the hematopoietic lineage. This new mechanism might hold a new promise for treatment because the osteoblasts might be a more amenable target that an AML or MDS cell.

Those malignant cells change identity constantly by accumulating new mutations or developing new protective mechanisms to outgrow treatments. Chemotherapy and other drugs that target specific mutations can be overcome by the appearance of new clones. These new clones arise or the clones become resistant. Our idea is that if you target a cell that is important for the induction of the disease and its progression, but that cell does not change its identity. You can block the signal of the cell, and then have another means to block leukemia. This research is inspiring and consuming me at the same time, not only by the thrill of the discoveries of basic science but because of its closeness to such devastating human diseases and its potential impact.

I am further influenced to my core by the work of my MD collaborators, especially Azra and Ellin. They are the closest ones to me and to my work. Often, I talk to them. I see the sensitivity with which they take care of their patients. Also, their relentless and uncompromising daily fight to save them. Over and over again, it is an inspiring fight to witness. It puts a human and humane face to the research. I can associate our work in the lab with the desired and hoped for outcome: to discover so as to treat. This is very personal and intense. I can say this approach increases personal responsibility and inspiration at the same time.

I share this view this feeling, responsibility, and try to pass them onto and to inspire my students, post-docs, and associate researcher scientists. I tell them how extremely privileged we are as researchers and as a basic science lab to have access to and to be entrusted at the same time with patient samples for our research. That we are lucky to have collaborators that have been generous in sharing their human samples with us.

It permits us to do meaningful research. Every time, we receive them, from Azra or Ellin, I say, “You should not sleep at night. You should be thankful every night that you were able to get these people’s cells. You had better do something worthwhile with them because to them it is a matter of life or death.” They hear this at least once a month. Or, every time that we get new samples. That’s how I feel about it. I committed, serious, and grateful to the work in the lab.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Associate Professor, Physiology and Cellular Biophysics, Columbia University.

[2] Individual Publication Date: August 8, 2016 at www.in-sightjournal.com; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2016 at https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

[3] Ph.D., Cardiff University.

[4] Photograph courtesy of Professor Stavroula Kousteni.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Associate Professor Stavroula Kousteni (Part One) [Online].August 2016; 11(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-associate-professor-stavroula-kousteni-part-one.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2016, August 8). An Interview with Associate Professor Stavroula Kousteni (Part One)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-associate-professor-stavroula-kousteni-part-one.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Associate Professor Stavroula Kousteni (Part One)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 11.A, August. 2016. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-associate-professor-stavroula-kousteni-part-one>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2016. “An Interview with Associate Professor Stavroula Kousteni (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 11.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-associate-professor-stavroula-kousteni-part-one.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Associate Professor Stavroula Kousteni (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 11.A (August 2016). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-associate-professor-stavroula-kousteni-part-one.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2016, ‘An Interview with Associate Professor Stavroula Kousteni (Part One)’, In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 11.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-associate-professor-stavroula-kousteni-part-one>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2016, ‘An Interview with Associate Professor Stavroula Kousteni (Part One)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 11.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-associate-professor-stavroula-kousteni-part-one.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Associate Professor Stavroula Kousteni (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 11.A (2016):August. 2016. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-associate-professor-stavroula-kousteni-part-one>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Associate Professor Stavroula Kousteni (Part One) [Internet]. (2016, August); 11(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-associate-professor-stavroula-kousteni-part-one.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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