Meet the husband-and-wife geneticists dedicated to cancer research — and each other

It hasn’t stopped being fun yet – and that applies both to their science and their marriage. Nancy Jenkins, Ph.D., and Neal Copeland, Ph.D., – together – are big in the field of cancer genetics. Both are members of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, an honor that puts them in rare company in the scientific world. They’ve co-authored more than 800 papers and have been referenced in medical journals more than 30,000 times – together. They say the science is just as much fun as when they started more than 38 years ago. And they hope to pass this motivation along to young researchers. Cancer research model pioneers Giulio Draetta, M.D., Ph.D., chief scientific officer ad interim and senior vice president for Therapeutics and Discovery, was thrilled when the couple agreed to come to MD Anderson in 2017 as mentors and collaborators, although they no longer run laboratories. “The knowledge, fresh perspective and inspiration they can share with our trainees and researchers is invaluable,’’ he says. Happily ever after The two met 42 years ago, as post-doctoral students at Harvard Medical School. When they married, they made a deliberate decision to run a lab together and do exactly the same kind of science. “We didn’t want to compete with each other because that wouldn’t lead to happily ever after,’’ Jenkins says. They also made a conscious decision not to have children so they could focus on their research careers. “Of the 80 post docs who were on our floor, half were women … and only two of us ended up staying in academic science,’’ Jenkins says. “We had...