May 03, 2019 11:00 AM


Photo of Brad Cairns

Video Transcript

I just thought that was the most amazing thing I had ever seen and I thought, 'Wow! This guy gets to study that and they pay him!' That's like his life. And I thought, 'I want to do something like that!'

I'm Brad Cairns and I serve as the senior director of basic science here at Huntsman Cancer Institute. I also serve as the chair of the department of oncological sciences which is a basic science department that is housed within Huntsman Cancer Institute.

When you’re not near your lab, what do you do for fun?

I like to mountain bike. I haven't done as much lately as I used to do in the past, but that's one of my favorite sports. I love to do it both here in northern Utah and also down in a southern Utah and my kids are starting to get a little bit older now so I look forward to mountain biking with them.

When did you know you wanted to be a scientist?

When I was in grade school, they showed us a video of people's professions, and they showed this film of a guy who was a cell biologist and they showed what he was looking at in the microscope, which was a cell that was going through division. And I had never seen that before, and I just thought that was the most amazing thing I had ever seen and I thought, 'Wow! This guy gets to study that and they pay him!' It's like his life. And I thought, 'I want to do something like that!'

What’s something your colleagues might not know about you?

I love jazz. I actually I play a little guitar, but not anything like my father or uncle can, but I'm a huge appreciator of music. My father is actually a professional guitar player and plays a lot of jazz. My mother was a jazz singer at a nightclub and she met my father because she was jazz singer and he was a jazz guitar player.

What brought you to the University of Utah?

Utah had a fantastic reputation in genetics, had a very strong biochemistry department, and had this emerging Huntsman Cancer Institute. When I came, the current Institute was a hole in the ground where the first building now resides along with a few other of the new recruits and we waited for the building to be built, and we were very excited about all the great colleagues that were here and being able to come together with many of them as soon as the building opened, so that was a fantastic time.

What is the best part of working at Huntsman Cancer Institute?

I take great joy in seeing the collaborations that have been formed between faculty over the years I've been here, and really magical things that happen at the interface of programs, seeing people that are doing special things together that they could never do apart, and I think we do that better than any other place I've seen, and it's the thing that gives me I think the most joy in the administrative work that I do.

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