SA: I was wondering, why did you do that?
RM: Part of it was naivet¿. I thought medicine was a lot like science. I thought it was a branch of science. And it's really not; it's a special profession in itself.
SA: Do you think medicine will become more science-driven in approach in the future?
RM: I think it will be based more and more on science. It is based on scientific knowledge, and for that reason, as knowledge builds, the abilities of medicine, the effectiveness of medicine, will strengthen. But I think it will always be very different from science because, in a sense, in medicine you are usually working on a set of facts, and you have to know a lot. You have to be very good at pattern recognition and making connections, about what this set of symptoms could mean. But that's very different from puzzling over a really detailed problem, in being able to figure out how some very small thing works. It feels different; that's all I can say. Solving a problem in the laboratory that might have a theoretical component feels like you use a different part of your brain than when you practice medicine. At least that was my personal experience.
SA: Do you think that medicine has given you some kind of insight that a pure scientist might lack?
RM: I don't think so. I think it has given me a different view of things, but I wouldn't say that it has given me insights that somebody with a Ph.D. training would lack, necessarily. I think it does give me a different perspective on it, but if I were asked, if I were to do it over again, I wouldn't go the medical route. Not because I regret it at all, I don't, but because I would rather have spent the time doing pure science for that period of my life. But I have no regrets at all. In a sense, it's hard to answer the question because, in a way, you would have to do the control experiment, right [laughs]? And we can't do that. Life is funny in that way.
SA: I find it quite interesting that you spent most of your education, actually all of it, and all your career before you came to New York, in the Boston area. Is there a specific reason? Do you have a special affinity to Boston?
RM: I grew up there. My family was there, and I just happened to go to college in the Boston area. When it came to medical school, actually, I stayed in the Boston area because my wife had a job in the Boston area and wanted to stay there.
SA: That's a good reason. And how do you like New York, now that you are here?
RM: I like it. It's a big city; it's very different. It's taken a little while to adjust to the city, but it really has its good points. I live in Manhattan because I never want to come here from too far. I like to be able to get back and forth to work; when I decide to go to work at any time, I like to be able to do it.
SA: So you don't miss Boston too much?
RM: In some ways, I do. I have a lot of very close friends in Boston, and I don't see them very often, and some nice family. But my wife and I go out and visit family, try to make it up at least once a month.
SA: Do you have children?
RM: I don't have children, no.
SA: Do you think it would be too difficult to have children and do brilliant science?
RM: I would say, no. A lot of people do great science and have children, though I must say probably it leaves more of my time free for just thinking about science.