Enjoy the Journey, Wherever It Goes

His groundbreaking work in biomedicine earned him a prestigious international award. But what would he be doing if not for science?


David Julius is chair of the Department of Physiology at UC San Francisco and received the 2017 Canada Gairdner International Award for his work on somatosensation. We asked about everything from the curiosity of researchers to rediscovering a musical instrument in hopes of giving you a better understanding of what goes on outside the lab for one of the best minds in Canadian research.

What do you like most about being a researcher?
I like having the freedom to follow my curiosity and work on problems of my own choosing.

What advice would you give young researchers?
Enjoy the process of discovery and experimentation. Don’t stress out about trying plan too far ahead and see too far into the future. That’s sort of futile in basic research – see where the road of discovery takes you and enjoy the journey.

What are you reading right now?
I’m reading ‘Dark Money’ by Jane Mayer. The political situation in the States has been corrupted by cash and this book provides some insight into our current predicament.

What do you like to do for fun?
I live in a beautiful part of the world and enjoy walking and hiking around with family. I like to travel, and I’ve taken up a musical instrument (again) in my ‘old age’.

If you could do any profession other than your own what would it be?
Film director or jazz musician.

Aside from things for your survival, what item would you most want to have with you on a deserted island?
An iPod with lots of music files, and The New York Times.

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Research2Reality is a groundbreaking initiative that shines a spotlight on world-class scientists engaged in innovative and leading edge research in Canada. Our video series is continually updated to celebrate the success of researchers who are establishing the new frontiers of science and to share the impact of their discoveries with the public.