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Our Stories - Larry Pearce
Biologist, National Cancer Institute, NIH
What is your role at NIH?
I’m a biologist in the National Cancer Institute (NCI). I’ve been employed at NCI for a total of 12 years, 9 years in my current position.
What inspired you to want work at NIH?
NIH is one of the premier research institutions in the world. A lot of cutting-edge research is conducted at NIH. Also, NIH has a significant influence on how scientific research is carried out, and it has a major role in policy making at the national, and even international, level.
Was it difficult transitioning into NIH?
Coming in from a small liberal arts university with different expectations, the transition was somewhat difficult. I graduated from textbooks, a couple of internships, and doing basic science under controlled conditions and known outcomes to heavy reading, conducting experiments day in and out, and frequent troubleshooting with little or no precedent. Suffice it to say that expectations are more rigorous at NIH. But, that is why NIH is the global leader. The lazy and uninspired have no place here.
For me, the most difficult aspect of the transition, for me, is communication. Sign language is how I communicate and speaking does not come naturally to me. Here at NIH, almost nobody signs and I am heavily dependent on lip-reading. It took a while for me to adjust. Thankfully, the sign language interpreting program is outstanding.
How do you think job seekers with a disability can benefit from joining NIH?
We, the differently-abled, comprise a large part of the U.S. population, some 25-30 million. That is a huge, under-tapped resource at NIH’s disposal. And for as long as diversity remains a priority, NIH will make every effort to accommodate us so that we can maximize our potential. In return, we get to do our work in one of the most prestigious places in the world. We have almost unlimited access to resources, more so than a great many other places. We even have a program – post-baccalaureate program – where students receive on-the-job training to prepare for graduate/medical school.