Connell lecture series: Dr. Isaac Bogoch

Written by Nour Bazzi

In the early stages of our careers, we encounter challenges that are entirely new to us. During these times, we naturally seek guidance from those who have successfully navigated similar situations. In doing so, we can selectively adopt the tools and replicate the approaches that serve us in our own unique journey. Recently, I had the pleasure of conversing with Dr. Isaac Bogoch, a seasoned infectious disease professional renowned for his roles as a clinician and researcher. Dr. Bogoch’s journey is marked by curiosity, collaboration, adaptability, and a passion for science. Our discussion served as a reminder to approach challenges with grace and appreciate the impact we can have on the lives of others. In this article, I share the valuable insights generously provided by Dr. Bogoch, and delve into the philosophies and practices that have played a defining role in his career.

Science as a team sport

Dr. Bogoch discussed the collaborative nature of science, likening it to a team sport where collective and individual successes intertwine. A strong advocate of the proverb, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go in numbers,’ Dr. Bogoch believes that the synergy of diverse professionals creates a force more potent than the sum of its parts. For him, networking transcends its professional utility; it’s a means to make friends and cultivate a supportive community. Beyond exchanging business cards, it’s about building relationships, finding mentors, and creating a network that adds a social dimension to the journey.

He passionately advocates for engaging deeply and candidly with one another, fostering collegial debates while respecting each other’s intellectual integrity. These debates are not merely a courtesy; they are essential. By actively seeking out differing perspectives, one can uncover blind spots and arrive at more robust conclusions, particularly crucial in a field like medicine, where the stakes are immensely high.

Transitioning from these broader views to a personal anecdote, Dr. Bogoch shares a story from his undergraduate years that vividly illustrates the profound impact a single interaction can have on a career. When a hockey injury led him to the emergency department, an off-the-cuff remark from the attending physician about his satisfaction with choosing medicine resonated deeply with Dr. Bogoch, steering him decisively toward a medical career.

Adaptability beyond evolution

As Dr. Bogoch navigated the ups and downs of his professional journey, his fascination expanded beyond infectious diseases to embrace the vastness of the sciences. This evolution reflects the dynamic nature of science itself;  far from being static, it continually adapts and evolves. In parallel, our passions undergo a similar evolution, which Dr. Bogoch encourages us to welcome with open hearts and receptive minds. In a field offering countless captivating areas, remaining open to varied sources of inspiration could mean discovering unexpected opportunities.

Yet, as with any journey, life is rife with unpredictable events that sometimes can manifest as setbacks. Acknowledging the unpredictability, Dr. Bogoch shares his approach of taking setbacks seriously while maintaining a sense of humour. Using a healthy and sustainable response, he meets challenges with the gravity they deserve while preventing the emotional toll from becoming overwhelming. This constructive approach to setbacks boosts resilience and adaptability, echoing the wisdom of Charles Darwin when he said: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, not the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

Redefining impact

When I asked Dr. Bogoch how he measures the impact of his work, he shifted the focus beyond conventional metrics like citations.  True impact, he suggests, lies in capacity building and supporting others on their journey. Building laboratory capacity, supporting local scientists, and ensuring their visibility at international conferences were all highlighted as more meaningful indicators. He believes that these are the kinds of contributions that leave a lasting legacy of positive change. This lesson in humility and service to humanity invites us, as graduate students, to consider broader indications of impact and diverse metrics beyond traditional academic measures.

Meaning of life beyond achievements

In a reflective moment, Dr. Bogoch shared his perspective on the meaning of life. While acknowledging the ambiguity of life’s ultimate purpose, he emphasized the importance of actively participating in life’s mundane yet precious moments. He strives to balance professional responsibilities with personal values, such as being an involved parent and maintaining a life outside of work – a reminder that pursuing a fulfilling life extends beyond professional achievements.

You can find out more about Dr. Bogoch’s work at

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