Author

About the Author

Bruce R. Gilbert, MD, PhD

 

I didn’t start out as an author of medical fiction. In fact, my high school English teachers would be shocked to hear I was a novelist! I was a techie who was into math and physics. Nonetheless, I can say that I found my way into writing through a less traveled path; engineering, physiology, and medicine.

In college, I was an electrical engineering student. In engineering, there was no imperative to be an eloquent writer. You just needed to be good at math and be able to program a computer. In the late 70’s computers were not like the MacBook Pro I use now. I spent weekends typing punch cards. Yup, I went to college when computers still needed to be fed manually typed cards.  A misspelled word, missing period or even a splatter of coffee on the card would cause the machine to spit the punch cards back at me and ruin the rest of my weekend. I couldn’t see myself doing this forever. I needed to find another career path. One in which I could leverage my love of problem-solving to make a difference in our quality of life. A medical career I thought would be ideal.

I didn’t have much of a background in biology when I graduated with a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering. The last bio course I took was in high school! I heard about a new curriculum combining medicine and engineering called Biomedical Engineering, which sounded perfect. The best part was that it would get me away from those self-righteous computers! At least I thought it would. Few programs in Biomedical Engineering existed at the time. So, I made my own. I pursued doctoral training in Physiology at New York Medical College.

I found out that I was pretty good at writing scientific papers during my doctoral training. One of the faculty members on my doctoral dissertation committee, a world-renowned physiologist Dr. Erich Windhager, asked me to come to Cornell Medical College to work in his laboratory as a post-doctoral Fellow. It was at Cornell that I worked on projects with Dr. E. Darracott Vaughn Jr., who was the Chief of Urology at Cornell and one of the few great leaders in Urology. He was also the brightest person I have known and the most influential mentor I ever had. It was Dr. Vaughan who encouraged me to complete a medical degree. Pursuing a medical degree was a turning point in my career. Weill-Cornell Medical College proved to be the perfect place. It was the breeding grounds of some of the greatest minds in reproductive biology and where, after completing my medical degree, I completed my Urology Residency under his mentorship.

I began my private practice in 1989 specializing in male fertility and sexual function. It was a dream come true. I was fortunate to meet remarkable patients, privileged to hear their stories and to play an integral part in helping them. It was after five years in practice that the writing bug hit me. I started writing a few chapters of my first novel.

My chosen field of reproductive biology was in the midst of unbridled technological advancement. Advances in vitro fertilization allowed the use of a single sperm to fertilize an egg. This breakthrough transformed the field of male fertility. We could now treat men that had no sperm in their ejaculate and even offer hope for those with no developing sperm cells found on biopsy of their testes! It was a remarkable time to be a reproductive specialist. There appeared to be endless possibilities. It also foreshowed significant ethical and clinical dilemmas.  Few could foresee that over the next decade we would be creating designer babies and able to alter the genetics of an embryo. It had become, as Aldous Huxley predicted in his 1931 novel, a Brave New World. For a burgeoning writer, working in this field, it also was an enormous opportunity.

Around 2004 I received an email advertisement for a weekend course in Cape Cod on ‘Medical Fiction Writing for Physicians’ taught by two exceptional authors of medical thrillers; Michael Palmer and Tess Gerritsen. Their love of writing was contagious. It was at their weekend seminar; I met Rebecca Campen and David Trock. All three of us had a passion for writing and had novels at various stages of completion. We formed a writer’s group, sending and critiquing chapters of each other’s work at regular intervals. It was this process and their friendship that kept me motivated.

Life, and work slowed down my writing. In 2017, I promised myself to complete this novel that I had started over a decade earlier. Like many of life’s adventures, writing a novel is a journey involving highs and lows, clarity and confusion yet always a labor of love.  I hope you, the reader, enjoy it!