I’d like to thank…

Alumni AwardWell, it really happened. My alma mater, West Seattle High School, put my picture up in their Hall of Fame. There enshrined for a long time to come is my grinning face, enjoying one of the finer moments in life, getting recognition for a lot of hard work.

Several people made flattering speeches about me, and then they handed me this plaque, which you see in its new place of honor on a bookshelf in my writing office, surrounded by some of my dinosaur friends.

If you click the picture, you can get a closeup to read the text.

I hadn’t really stopped to measure the impact of my scientific career until the Alumni Association called and told me I had won their award. But thinking back on my decades in the biotech industry, I can see what they mean. Arthritis treatments, a study of the most potent inflammatory hormone in the human body, those do rate an acknowledgment. And that odd thing, the “FLAG epitope tag,” which I call a molecular handle these days, rates special mention. It is the world’s first commercially successful nanotechnology device. And researchers around the world are using it to study every aspect of human health and disease.

My invention of the FLAG epitope was something like Thomas Edison inventing the lightbulb. On the day he made it in his lab, it was just one lightbulb. But a couple of decades later it had proliferated and was illuminating millions of homes and businesses.

I can see my “molecular handle” in that perspective. It has gone on far beyond my invention and become a commonplace tool in scientific laboratories around the world. Thousands of scientific researchers are using it daily to help illuminate the workings of the human body in health and disease.

While I was at the podium making my acceptance speech, I offered the school library copies of my novels, Dinosaur Wars and The Neah Virus, which were gladly accepted.

After that, I thanked the faculty, past and present, for their dedication to seeing each student live up to his or her full potential. I guess the point of all this awarding and accepting is that, in my case, their pedantic labors paid back some dividends.

About Tom Hopp

Thomas P Hopp is a scientist and author living in Seattle. He writes Peyton McKean mystery stories and the Dinosaur Wars science fiction series.
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