Dear Dr. Cordain,
My name is Chelsea and I am a graduate student at Weill Cornell Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. I am currently in my second year of pursuing a PhD in Pharmacology. Although I have enjoyed my coursework and research here, after discovering the Paleo Diet, I’ve found that my personal beliefs on how to treat disease are a bit out of sync with my professional life. I am hoping to take the skills I have learned here and apply them to more nutrition focused biochemical research once I have graduated. I was wondering if you could give me any advice on how to prepare myself for a job in this field. I’m curious if a PhD in Pharmacology will be applicable to a post doc in a more nutrition based lab. I still have at least three years of research ahead of me before I graduate, but would be honored to do a post doc in your lab if you happened to have any positions available at that time. I am a huge fan of your work and like so many people, the paleo diet has really changed my life. I’m also from Utah and would love to get back to the west coast! Hope to hear from you soon.
Dr. Cordain’s Response:
Many thanks for your kind and encouraging words about the Paleo concept, and I am happy to hear how “Paleo” has positively impacted your life. The evolutionary basis for diet/health/and well being is a powerful conceptual template that will not go away, as we better understand how natural selection shaped our genome, including our current day nutritional requirements in regards to health and wellness.
As you have correctly identified, many professional and academic disciplines (involved with diet, health and well being) have sorely failed their constituency by not recognizing the most powerful idea in all of biology – evolution via natural selection. This principle guides all of biology, including its applied human sciences – medicine, nutrition, pharmacology, physical therapy, etc. Those applied biological disciplines and people who fail to understand the far reaching magnitude and importance of this compelling idea will fall by the wayside, ala Bob Dylan’s message in “The Times They are a Changing.”
I believe that a dedicated grass roots movement from professionals and academics like yourself and others of your generation will eventually replace the dogma and poor science that now influences institutional and governmental recommendations regarding diet and health. In a decade or two, your generation will inherit the positions of institutional influence that determine national policy regarding diet and health. Hopefully, the knowledge and best science you have gleaned, not necessarily from your professional education, but from your ability to think critically will be reflected in future nutritional guidelines for the world. Good luck and stay the course, your generation will inherit the world. New information and good science will always replace incorrect information and bad science.
Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus