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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    A lesson in love


    Courtesy of Rajesh Khanna and May Khanna 

    Rajesh Khanna, center, a pharmacology associate professor, and May Khanna, right, a pharmacology assistant professor.

    The UA has many great faculty members, and some of those faculty members happen to be married to each other. To celebrate love, scholarship and really adorable stories this Valentine’s Day, here’s some favorite faculty couples answering questions about their relationships.

    How did you meet each other?

     “On a Monday late in January 1981, I drove through a snowstorm from New York, … where I was then a professor at Columbia University, to Massachusetts to give a research seminar at the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology. For several reasons, including the weather, I didn’t want to take that trip, but I did so out of a sense of professional obligation. It clearly worked out well for me, however, because the best thing about the trip by far was meeting Gail. 

    She was a postdoctoral research fellow there at that time, and by good fortune, I sat next to her at a meal in a restaurant as part of my visit. I knew within minutes in a conversation with her that she fit my “search image.” After I returned to NYC, I wrote to her — there was no Internet then, and I couldn’t find a telephone number for her — expressing interest in getting together sometime if she might be interested. She responded by wiring roses to me — it doesn’t get better than that. We met in Boston the following week, which was almost Valentine’s Day, and as they say: ‘The rest is history.’” 

    — John Hildebrand, a neuroscience professor, on how he met Gail Burd, a professor of molecular and cellular biology

    “Not much more I can say after John’s comments. I guess you get the point that I wanted to see him again.” 

    — Burd about Hildebrand

    What is your most memorable Valentine’s Day together?

    “Our most memorable Valentine’s was a trip to New Orleans. Southwest Airlines was celebrating their 25th anniversary and any flight was only $25. On a whim, we decided to go to [New Orleans] for Valentine’s [and] we had great food, saw jazz at Preservation Hall; very romantic. Frankly, since Valentine’s Day falls within the semester, we usually just go out to dinner, and of course there is chocolate involved. Generally, we try and make anniversaries special and have done some very interesting trips.”

     — Margaret Briehl, a pathology professor, about  Dennis Ray, a plant sciences professor

    What is your favorite thing about each other?

    “My favorite thing about my wife is her infectious laughter and indomitable spirit.” 

    — Rajesh Khanna, a pharmacology associate professor, about May Khanna, a pharmacology assistant professor

    “My favorite thing about my husband is his selflessness, his complete adoration of his kids and that he is madly in love with me.” 

    — May Khanna about Rajesh Khanna

    “Wow, this is a difficult question; how can I select one thing? We share a love of music — opera, symphony and chamber music — dance, visual arts and travel, but also have deep discussions about science, biomedical issues related to our course and politics. I think my favorite thing about John is that, in addition to being my husband, he is my best friend.” 

    – Burd about Hildebrand

    “By now, a pattern should be clear to all readers. We agree on just about everything, and again, I agree with Gail. She’s my best friend, and by now, I have learned that there’s nothing more important in a relationship than genuine, caring friendship. It’s the core of love that lives forever.”

     — Hildebrand about Burd

    Have you ever collaborated on research or a project at the UA?

    “We have collaborated on several projects in the past and continue to do so as our diverse backgrounds — mine in molecular and cellular neurobiology and hers in structural biology combined with and high throughput drug discovery — are a perfect marriage for what we are attempting to do in our scientific careers, which is to find novel ways to mitigate pain and migraine with biologics that target key protein-protein interactions in the pain and migraine cellular transduction pathways.”

     — Rajesh Khanna about May Khanna


    Nick Havey is a junior studying physiology and Spanish. Follow him on Twitter.

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