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Love, Marriage, and Medicine: Husband-and-Wife Research Team Featured in Real Simple

Feb 14, 2012

ASCO member Wadih Arap, MD, PhD, and Renata Pasqualini, PhD, have shared leadership of a laboratory at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center since 1999, credit for more than 100 papers, and numerous awards. They also share a love story that spans years and continents.

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Real Simple, a popular lifestyle magazine, published an interview with Dr. Arap and Dr. Pasqualini as part of a feature on “5 True Love Stories,” in which they explain how their work and their relationship are deeply intertwined. (The interview was originally published in the February print issue of Real Simple.)

The couple was first introduced by phone in 1993, despite growing up in the same town, attending the same schools, and sharing an advisor at the University of Sao Paolo; because of their six-year age gap, they never crossed paths in Brazil. When Dr. Arap, who was performing cancer biology research at Stanford University, needed a hard-to-find chemical for an experiment, his former advisor suggested contacting Dr. Pasqualini, who was using the same material as part of her research at Harvard University. Dr. Arap called her about the chemical, which she was able to provide, and for a few months they corresponded mostly by email.

As a thank-you for the chemical, Dr. Arap invited Dr. Pasqualini to Stanford to give a guest lecture to his lab associates. She arrived on Wednesday. On Friday, Dr. Arap asked her to marry him.

“When you know, you know,” is a commonly quoted aphorism when it comes to romance. For Dr. Arap and Dr. Pasqualini, the saying could not be more true. “He put his hand in mine and something incredible happened. I knew I was in love. I said yes,” she told Real Simple, and two months later they were wed. They’ve now been married for 18 years.

Real Simple approached the couple because of an article about their relationship and their research published in the Houston Chronicle in 2010. Eric Berger, the Chronicle’s scientific reporter, shared Dr. Arap and Dr. Pasqualini’s compelling personal story on Valentine’s Day, and the article made it to the paper’s front page.

The article quotes ASCO member Christopher Logothetis, MD, also of M. D. Anderson, who invited Dr. Arap and Dr. Pasqualini to head a lab at the institution. “They are creative, impassioned problem solvers,” he said in the Chronicle. “They feed off of each other and it creates a synergy. Him being a physician, her being a pure scientist, he's more pragmatic, and she's more of a risk-taker. Together, they're a perfect match.”
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