"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity ... It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” 

— Melody Beattie

I am grateful to be back at WVU.  

In many ways, each day is like being in the movie “Groundhog Day,” but in a very good way. I have strong and positive images of my time at the Eberly College, which prepared me very well for the path I have taken in my life. 

I started at Eberly exploring different offerings. Courses in chemistry, biology, genetics and psychology from talented teachers provided me with an appreciation for high-tech and high-touch. My teachers brought out the illuminating precision of chemistry, the beauty of biology and the broad application of psychology. 

From Eberly, I have a foundation of curiosity and lifelong learning and a love for physical, life and social sciences. These experiences also began to frame my interest in attending medical school. 

Paralleling Eberly’s curriculum, the new admission test to medical school tests physical, life and social sciences. The interaction between these disciplines is critical to success in discovery, education and patient care. 

Today, we know that social connection and social architecture influence our decision-making, health and disease status. Moreover, life sciences areas like biochemistry, genetics and social sciences are closely interwoven. Our social networks – our friends and families – have a huge part in determining our choices in food, clothes and health. These networks even influence our genetic signals and critical biochemical regulation. This combination of drivers and responders can drive changes in our weight, health and life span. 

The key to creating communities of health is in many ways parallel to the learning community at Eberly. Diversity in people and diversity in knowledge create a mosaic for an effective person and a healthy population. John Seeley Brown, the originator of Xerox Park, the innovation think-tank part of Xerox, wrote in his book, “The Power of Pull,” that real innovation happens at the edges of disciplines. Eberly offers such opportunities for WVU students today. 

Those of us fortunate enough to practice medicine realize the real healing takes place mainly in the personal interactions that allow doctors and patients to touch on the human plane. While technical skills rooted in deep science and technologies are tools of the medical trade, personal skills like emotional intelligence, service and purpose are the tools of the healer. For me, I gained access to the people and learning that helped me grow personally and professionally at Eberly. 

I am grateful for the opportunity to be around the great colleagues, teachers and administrators at WVU in the Eberly College and now to be back at WVU in the health sciences. Every day I reflect on all that I have received from WVU. I am so privileged to now have the opportunity to pay back and pay forward.  

Simon Sinek wrote two great books – “Start with Why” and “Leaders Eat Last.” In these books he makes some central observations – that great organizations and leaders focus on their purpose and build community. 

We have a golden moment at WVU to change the future of West Virginia by creating interdisciplinary education and collaborative teams. The deep knowledge needed to create the precision tools of science combined with the soft touch of social sciences can change the world from here. 

Mountaineers like us are pioneers and, by climbing the highest mountain, we can plant the beacon to light the way for all others. 

 “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.” — William H. Murray, mountaineer,  Scottish Himalayan Expedition

Clay Marsh, M.D., leads the academic Health Sciences Center of West Virginia University, which includes five schools – dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy and public health – and numerous allied health programs and clinical operations around the state. A national leader in personalized medicine and in pulmonary and critical care medicine, Marsh has concentrated his efforts in determining how to help individuals stay healthy and how to create ecosystems to make this easy.

Marsh is a two-time graduate of West Virginia University, earning an undergraduate degree in biology in 1981 and a medical degree in 1985.

Marsh’s research has focused on defining the underlying mechanisms that determine health and disease. His research interests include the molecular regulation of longevity and epigenetic controls of aging. He holds more than 20 patents or patent disclosures. He has mentored more than 50 MD, MD/PhD and PhD doctoral students, postdoctoral researchers and junior faculty, and won a number of Ohio State teaching awards. He has been responsible for more than $20 million in National Institutes of Health funding as principal investigator, co-PI, co-investigator and mentor, and has published more than 140 papers in peer-reviewed journals.

He serves on national scientific advisory committees for organizations such as the National Institutes of Health, the American Thoracic Society, the Sarnoff Cardiovascular Research Foundation, GlaxoSmithKline and Caris Life Sciences. He is a Fellow in the American College of Physicians and an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation.