The Scientist and the Cure
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Giorgi, this visit to Santa Fe is something of a spiritual journey
-- a coming together of her past and present lives. She was invited
here a year ago by Ellen Goldberg, an engaging scientist who is
the institute's director. Goldberg was one of Giorgi's mentors at
the University of New Mexico, where the bright young graduate student
was one of just six women in the microbiology and immunology program.
The two have remained close ever since. At the lecture, Goldberg's
introduction of her former student was lavish with pride and praise.
"She's a remarkable scientist and her work has resulted in, and
will continue to result in, insights into this terrible disease,"
she told the audience.
has also brought along some of the people she treasures most in
the world. There is her longtime partner, Duane Keith, a research
specialist in the biochemistry of narcotics addiction, and three
members of her staff and a longtime friend. Unlike many top researchers,
Giorgi is exceptionally close to those with whom she works. Every
Christmas, she throws a lavish party at the airy, Eichler-style
Woodland Hills home she shares with Keith, cooking everything herself,
from the turkey crepes to the cheesecake. It's her way of thanking
her staff for their long hours and devotion. "Her enthusiasm is
inspirational," says Mary Ann Hausner, who runs the scientist's
immune function laboratory. "She has a way of reaching out to people.
Everybody in the lab strives to meet her requirements."
lived in New Mexico for nine years and she loves the Southwest.
The high mountains and open blue sky with its huge cottony clouds
are like a tonic to her. On this visit she went fly fishing for
the first time, standing in a cold stream in waders, a hat and fishing
vest. She didn't catch a single trout, but she was radiant nonetheless.
"It was like being home again," she says of New Mexico, after returning
to Los Angeles.
ago, Giorgi couldn't have imagined such a journey. A year ago, she
could barely get out of bed. In a perverse roll of the dice, Giorgi,
who has spent the better part of her professional life determinedly
searching for the kind of answers that could conquer HIV, was battling
her own deadly disease: uterine cancer.