2020 Tang Prize laureate Charles Dinarello has the enviable reputation of being one of the founding fathers of cytokines, and is credited with discovering and cloning interleukin-1 (IL-1), the first cytokine ever to be identified. IL-1 is one of the pro-inflammatory molecules known for inducing fever in the human body.
But when he is not immersed himself in the intricate world of scientific research, Dinarello often indulges in another great passion of his— classical music. Born into a family of Italian immigrants, Dinarello grew up surrounded by his mother’s love for operas. Many a Saturday afternoon, she would make her children sit around the radio and listen to opera broadcasts. As a matter of course, Dinarello took voice and piano lessons, and went on to sing in the Boston Symphony chorus for more than a decade.
If the role of a rational scientist seems to be at odds with that of an emotional musician, Dinarello is able to carry them both comfortably, enthusiastically embracing these two personae with a scientist’s pursuit of truth and a musician’s dedication to beauty.
Click on this video to listen to Dinarello recounting his quest for Bach in the then Communist East Germany, and you will hear the soul of a good musician resonate in the spirit of a great scientist.