Hooked on ID with Myron Cohen, MD
On my first day of medical school, I was assigned a physical diagnosis tutor who was a well-known infectious diseases specialist. He had encyclopedic knowledge. He was a remarkable teacher and — equally important — a great storyteller.
Like a newborn duckling, I imprinted. I liked every rotation in medical school (especially surgery and obstetrics), but from day one, I was meant to be an ID specialist.
What is the career all about? Was this the correct decision? You see patients who really need a specialist, you can do basic and/or clinical research, you can work across any imaginable specialty and you can collaborate with virtually any expert whose interest you attract. You will inevitably learn about the local, state and federal government, as well as industry and biotechnology. Infectious disease is a dramatic specialty; many cases have the urgency of a surgical emergency, and continued expertise in communicable diseases and public health is required.
I began my career at the very beginning of the HIV pandemic. I have spent the past 18 months working on COVID-19 treatment and prevention. I think these viral “bookends” shine a very bright light on the importance of a career in infectious diseases.
— Myron Cohen, MD
Director, Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill