Yesterday, I learned of the passing of Dr. Rob Lue. Like thousands of others who studied life sciences at Harvard, he was my first professor in a course called LS1a. But Dr. Lue did so much more than just teach a life science class. (1/15)
In one unit, we were talking about enzymes, and he showed us a 3-D model of HIV-1 protease, which he dubbed the "butterfly of death". As our discussion of HIV ended, in the last minutes of class, (2/15)
he pulled out a letter that a friend had written him while they were both in college. The letter was about their friendship, and how his friend wanted so dearly to live longer. He was dying of HIV/AIDS. I remember Dr. Lue telling us how his friend was a gifted swimmer. (3/15)
And I remember him beginning to cry, in front of a lecture hall with about 400 first-years watching. The vulnerability of that moment still resonates with me today, 7 years later, and I will never forget it. But he did something else that has completely changed my life, (4/15)
and probably the lives of many of my peers as well. (5/15)
He invited us to an optional evening lecture where he would discuss the history HIV/AIDS. I had almost no knowledge of HIV/AIDS, and out of a small interest, decided to go. I am not exaggerating when I say this lecture changed my life. (6/15)
It was the first time I heard the term GRID (gay-related immune deficiency); the first time I read the MMWR reports that identified AIDS; the first time I heard about gay cancer; the first time I had really been exposed to the history of HIV/AIDS and how intertwined it (7/15)
is with the history of gay men and the LGBTQ+ community. It was also the first time I saw a gay man speak so honestly about science, medicine, history, and politics, a respected professor who didn't hide his identity but instead leaned on it in order to teach us. (8/15)
Because of Dr. Lue's lecture, I decided to pick a writing course on the cultural history of HIV/AIDS. From there, I decided I really wanted to study immunology, (9/15)
because of the interplay between HIV and the immune system- so I took Harvard's only two undergraduate immunology courses. I also knew I had to learn more about LGBTQ+ culture and history, (10/15)
so I took further courses on LGBT Literature and on the Political History of HIV/AIDS in a small seminar in my senior year. From there, I decided I wanted to do a Master's in Immunology, which I completed last year. Now, I'm an MD/PhD student, (11/15)
just beginning my studies into viruses and developmental biology, and working with many 2SLGBTQ+ groups both in medicine and science. (12/15)
I wish I would have told Dr. Lue that the simple acts of being vulnerable, being honest, and giving so much to his students changed the course of my education and my life. It's no wonder that after 7 years I still remember all of this, because it resonates to this day. (13/15)
I know he impacted many others, and his legacy reaches far wider than just me. But I'm incredibly grateful for his role in my life, and his death is a reminder to remain vulnerable and honest and engaged in medicine, in science, in our communities, and in our politics. (14/15)
Biologist Rob Lue, founding HarvardX faculty director, dies at 56… via
@Harvard #LGBTQSTEM #Harvard #QueerinSTEM

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