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La Familia Gilman

Larry Canner

La Familia Gilman (continued)

Follow the Leader

Angela Bayer, PhD ’08, MHS ’04

I came to Peru when I was a master’s student in the Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health to intern at the International Planned Parenthood Federation and research adolescent sexuality. Eventually I was looking for a place to do my research, and a colleague said I should talk with Bob. Bob said he didn’t know anything about my topic, but he told me to come work at his study site, and we’d take it from there. Even though supposedly he didn’t know anything about adolescent sexuality research, he was frequently trying to connect me with other people who could further my work or tell me about related research that was going on elsewhere in Peru.

Part of his extraordinary body of knowledge might come from how Bob operates. Peru, like all of Latin America, has a very divided society. You can stay in nice neighborhoods and not see anything beyond those, but that’s definitely not how Bob works. He’s out at study sites, talking to the people who live there, finding out how things really work. It’s incredibly rare.

Years later, when I was preparing the final defense for my PhD dissertation, Bob came to me with a proposition. Chagas disease was spreading in Peru, and he wanted me and another student to take over and use our analytical methods to collect information. We ultimately gathered evidence that migration might play a big role—people were moving from small towns to big cities, and vice versa, bringing with them the parasite that causes this disease.

Many researchers would think it’s crazy to hand over a project to someone who doesn’t even have her PhD yet, but that’s not Bob. He thinks if you give people some training and some tools and tell them you believe in them, they get things done. Now, that’s the role I take when I lead a study. I think of the way Bob does things, and then I try to follow that as closely as possible. I’m very junior, but if I have the opportunity to reach out to other people and help them in their careers, I strive to do that.


This forum is closed
  • Rony Colanzi

    Santa Cruz-Bolivia 05/28/2012 09:05:05 PM

    Since I have known Dr Gilman, I think more of humans. He is an example of generosity and love for others. In Bolivia, we carry forward the implementation of laboratory research on tuberculosis and Chagas. Thank you very much for a life devoted to science, with such dedication.

  • Rafael Coria

    Mexico City 05/29/2012 10:17:25 PM

    Ha sido un gran honor conocer al Dr. Robert Guilman, su buen humor, sus criticas inteligentes y su humanismo son ejemplo para quienes anhelan hacer investigacion en beneficio de nuestros semejantes. From Mexico City to Peru.

  • Vita Cama

    Atlanta, GA. USA 06/14/2012 09:58:48 AM

    I am perhaps one of the elder member of the Gilman family, preceeding the times of training funds. We have worked continuously since he became my mentor in 1988. Bob's always evolving science skills and his human values have made a strong impact in my life. I am very grateful that Emico asked me to bring a pig in my car to Cayetano!

  • Brian W. Simpson

    Editor, Johns Hopkins Public Health 06/14/2012 11:13:13 AM

    That sounds like a great story, Vita. Please tell us more.

  • alberto saavedra

    america continente 07/01/2012 09:36:08 AM

    "Todo arte o palabra viene del pueblo y va hacia el" el conocimiento y las palabras del pueblo han brindado a Bob las guias de su invalorable sabiduria dejando sus huellas y su nombre hacia las futuras generaciones que lo seguiran con orgullo y felicidad muchas gracias "maestro" por sus esfuerzos y profunda perseverancia los multiples destinos lo recordaran con mucho carino

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