Harris R. Perlman, PhD, the chief of Rheumatology in the Department of Medicine and the Mabel Greene Myers Professor of Medicine, was recently selected as one of two 2022 Mentors of the Year by the Medical Faculty Council (MFC) of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine at a virtual workshop on May 10, where he shared insights from his experiences mentoring students, trainees and peers.
Dr. Perlman was nominated by Jeremy A. Lavine, MD, PhD, and Carla Marie Cuda, PhD, who described him as a true visionary. “He’s a forward-thinking scientist always, with his fingers on the pulse of what’s coming next,” said Dr. Cuda in her nomination.
Dr. Perlman earned his doctoral degree at Tufts University School of Medicine and came to Northwestern University in 1999 as assistant professor. He left in 2002 to take a position at Saint Louis University as assistant professor before returning in 2008 and being named chief of Rheumatology in 2015.
In his presentation, Dr. Perlman discussed the mentors that have impacted his career and lifted him up, and he shared the lessons they have taught him.
Dr. Perlman said his first experience in a lab at Columbia University taught him the importance of giving time to mentees. He also learned the importance of reading widely, to understand how science is changing.
One of his mentors at Tufts University taught him about the business side of science, how salaries work and how you get paid, which he has passed onto his mentees. “I really try to make sure all mentees learn where your salary comes from, how you get paid, and to know which times you can argue for more salary, and how that is handled,” he says.
Dr. Perlman mentioned the importance of supporting students and trainee projects and encouraging mentees to take ownership of their research and help them stay focused.
Additionally, teaching about work-life balance is an important role of a mentor, he says. “We have to make sure that people in our lab really get the help they need, directing them to use the resources that are available.”
Many of Dr. Perlman’s mentors were from universities across the country and he emphasized the importance of networking across institutions.
“You have to have emotional intelligence when you become a mentor and as a mentee, and you have to remember that this is a marathon,” he says. “It’s not always a sprint. Our careers are marathons.
This article was originally published in the Feinberg School of Medicine News Center on May 26, 2022.
Harris R. Perlman, PhD, chief of Rheumatology and the Mabel Greene Myers Professor of Medicine at Northwestern Medicine.
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