Illustration: A. Canamucio

I came to this country in 1969, trying to be a pathology resident. After finishing my residency, I decided to try my hand at research. Deep down I suspect that I used it as a ruse to prolong my already long apprenticeship and delay having to make an honest living as a practicing pathologist. A particularly influential event that convinced me to enroll in the immunology program rather than any other was a journal club presentation by Frank Lilly, who was then chairman of genetics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

The paper that Frank presented was a somewhat theoretical argument by Niels Jerne,1,2 on a possible model for the emergence of the bewilderingly large repertoire of antigen recognition apparently inherent in the mammalian immune system.3 The argument presented by Jerne was at once so talmudically convoluted and improbably lucid that I felt compelled...

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