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Hello Friends!

And of course, as everybody is talking about, Happy Valentine’s Day!

Today I want to share how I decided on my career path in science, it has to do with love. One summer day when I was 12 years old I went to my home town public library to borrow a book. After brief talk and few questions the librarian handed me a book that has just made it there: “Beyond Love” by Dominique Lapierre. At the beginning I thought “Oh, another novel for girls of my age”, and she picked on that and said, “This is different, you are going to like it”. And she was right, as I devoured that book over the summer I discovered my purpose in life.

“Beyond love” relates the work of Mother Teresa and her sisters with patients at the boom of the AIDS epidemy, doctors and nurses trying their best to heal the victims of this new evil, and the fierce fight in the labs that led to the discovery of the causal agent of the disease, the Human Immune Deficiency Virus (HIV). The story left me with a beautiful lesson. The people that were doing those jobs were really being love. I knew that book was the master piece that would guide my life, like a map and I knew I had to do something meaningful, beyond earning a salary, something that could help others and make a difference in the world. And needless to say, I fell in love with science, it was only because the virus was discovered, that it was characterized and that drugs targeting the virus were produced. Fast forward thirty years from the discovery of HIV, patients can have a much better life, there is a treatment, there are patients that test negative after treatment, there is prevention, and there is hope, because we “know” something new, something we didn’t before. That’s the power of science!

As I followed my passion in my life, I debated whether to be a doctor or a biochemist or a geneticist. Eventually I studied biochemistry and got my PhD. My research involved molecular virology and more recently gene expression in mitochondria. Both areas are fascinating. I continue to work with the hope that I will make a difference in the world, and this is a tough job in basic science because it takes lots of work and time to discover the secrets of nature and translate that into applicable knowledge. Yet as I get more mature and dig deepest in my soul I came to realize that the driving force is LOVE.

Today is Valentine’s day in the US, and the world tends to mimic this day. A great day for many industries and a devastating one for some who are single or struggling in a relationship. I used to struggle on this day when I was single because wherever I would go I would feel I was the one no fitting, the one that was single… I know there is a lot of people out there that are wiser than me. Anyways, I wish somebody had told me at that point what I now remember: that I was not alone, that LOVE is something else than going out for dinner, eating chocolates or receiving gifts, that we are always guided, that we keep finding mentors that teach us and facilitate our growth, that love is something different and is always with us.

They have made us believe that love is something you get, you give, you buy, you deserve, or you don’t deserve, you exchange, you trade, you manipulate people to have it, and so on…

What if… LOVE is within us and we ARE LOVE. These are the teachings from the biggest masters in the history of humanity, aren’t these? Why do we forget?
I think my discovery of my passion for science is about that, discovering that I AM LOVE and that my call and purpose is to BE LOVE. I regularly ask myself how can I be more LOVE in my daily life, with my family, in my environment, with the people I interact daily, in my community? Where can I be more empowering, more supportive, a teacher, a better mentor, where can I leave from my interactions having made a positive impact in the other person, how can I make my research more meaningful? Where can I be more LOVE?

So here is my gift for you today, tonight watch the full moon, and know that we are that, full, pure love, and celebrate! Either way, whether alone or with others, celebrate that you are LOVE and you can bring LOVE to whatever you do. The world needs it.

BE LOVE! And Happy Valentine’s day!

Fernanda

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