For a woman who has made a breakthrough in DNA and cancer research and won a Nobel Prize, it’s hard to imagine that she was barely accepted to graduate school.

Carol Greider, Ph.D., was an outstanding applicant to graduate school save one piece—her standardized tests.

"I had great research experience, great letters of recommendation, and outstanding grades, but I had poor GREs," she said.

Her problem with dyslexia began in elementary school. She struggled to read out loud, oftentimes mixing up letters in writing and sometimes mispronouncing words. Grieder learned to memorize words to overcome her dyslexia, and she got through school successfully.

As for graduate school, after not doing well on the GRE, two schools gave her interviews. Greider meshed with the research team at University of California, Berkeley and began to do research.

She aided Elizabeth Blackburn in research involving telomeres, a part of chromosomes that deal with DNA, which would eventually lead her to winning the Nobel Prize.

Despite struggling in grade school, Greider credits her dyslexia for helping her in the lab.

"I believe that learning to develop my compensatory skills also played a role in my success as a scientist because one has to intuit many different things that are going on at the same time and apply those to a particular problem—to not just concentrate on one of them, but to bring many in laterally. Perhaps my ability to pull more information out of context and to put together different ideas may have been affected by what I learned to do from dyslexia."

Greider’s biography can be found on Johns Hopkins’ website [2], and her story about dealing with dyslexia can be found on The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity website [1].

For a woman who has made a breakthrough in DNA and cancer research and won a Nobel Prize, it’s hard to imagine that she was barely accepted to graduate school.
Success Story: Carol Greider