On trailblazing geneticist Pardis Sabeti, who balances being in a rock band with her work in computational genomics:
“There’d be plenty of people eager to talk to Sabeti before long. That October, she was the lead author on a paper published in Nature that laid out her discovery’s ‘profound implications for the study of human history and for medicine.’ For the first time, researchers could look for evidence of positive selection by testing common haplotypes even if they didn’t have ‘prior knowledge of a specific variant or selective advantage.’ By applying this approach to pathogens, there was the possibility of identifying how diseases had evolved to outwit the human immune response or develop drug resistance—knowledge that would open up new avenues to combating disease.
“All of a sudden, the previously unknown 26-year-old was a superstar. David Hafler, a Yale neurologist and immunobiologist who has worked with Sabeti, compares her approach to that of a preternaturally gifted athlete, the hockey great Wayne Gretzky. ‘He was asked, ‘Why are you always where the action is?’ And he responded, ‘I don’t skate to where the puck is, I skate to where the puck is going to be.’ That’s the reason she’s able to make all of these fundamental contributions.’”