John P. A. Ioannidis, Professor of Medicine and Health Research at Stanford University, is among the ten most quoted scientists in the world. In the following years, he will establish a Meta-Research Innovation Center (METRIC-Berlin) in Berlin, in order to research the development and reliability of scientific research itself. METRIC-Berlin will enable Ioannidis to further advance his initiative on quality assurance in biomedical research.
Please close your eyes and think about your research project. What do you see at first?
Our eyes remain closed most of the time, I am struggling to tell people to keep their eyes open.
How would you explain your research to a child?
I like playing all day long.
What is it that surprises people when you tell them about your research?
They wonder that I have not been assassinated yet.
With whom would you like to swap your workplace for one day? What would you do?
That's exactly what I am trying to do every day: do something new.
Is there any rather unusual hobby or talent you might want to share with us?
Not sure it is unusual, let alone a talent, but I am a writer and I also write libretti for operas - in all my author vanity I would love to see my books translated in German and my operas staged in Berlin.
What did your research teach you about life?
Research is a microcosm of life, but scaling the experience is not easy. One thing is obvious: keep failing, keep trying.
What would your job be, if not a scientist?
Outside of what little I do in research, teaching, and writing, I am so useless – my wife knows that I can’t even fix a light bulb – that probably I would be unemployed.
Is there any particular object that follows you through work and/or life?
I carry a tetradrachm (a four drachmas coin) from Hellenistic Alexandria and the ring of a little girl from ancient Perge in my eyeglass cases.
Which place in Berlin do you like the most, and why?
The Museum Island, naturally; I can connect with so much that is alive there and I am so happy it is next to, and visible from the Berlin Institute of Health offices.
Is there anything about Berlin that you didn’t expect at all? And/or something that you miss here? What makes Berlin special for your research?
I love cities that can surprise you continuously, every day, and Berlin is one such. I miss the sea vistas of the Aegean and the Ionian, but these are readily carried in memories anyhow. Berlin is a fantastic epicentre to do research: lots of brilliant people, buzzing ideas at arm's length (or should I say, "mind's length"), plus that unique European scent of inspiration.