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For Gary Cantor, Durham is Home

August 23, 2016
As a young boy in Coral Springs, Florida, Gary Cantor discovered the medical reality show, “Trauma: Life in the ER,” on TV and decided that what he saw was so cool, he wanted a career in medicine. He developed great admiration for the doctors who worked to save people's lives, especially the surgeons, at least for a while.

The dream of becoming a great surgeon took a turn, however, when Gary Cantor was 13 and he saw a YouTube video of Dr. Aubrey de Grey. Dr. de Grey is a biomedical gerontologist who firmly believes that medical research was the most important thing in the world and the key to humans learning how to live 1,000 years. He corresponded with Dr. de Grey over several years and realized that medical research was his calling.

Soon, while he was still just a teenager, Gary Cantor began to study biology at the University of Florida and he also worked as a researcher in his first lab. He also completed a four-month internship with Genentech in their Translational Oncology department, where he served an important role on a team looking into a promising treatment for breast cancer.

Following the University of Florida, he was accepted into the Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program (BBSP) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he also joined the university's Genetics and Molecular Biology Department. To Gary Cantor, Durham, which is adjacent to Chapel Hill, is now home.

Gary Cantor is now able to see the human body as an advanced computer. He believes that anyone with knowledge of the body’s instruction manual, which is how he refers to the genome, may be able to get the computer to run well and run forever. Still only in his mid-20s, he is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate with a long time to make inroads in the field of medical research.