Best of Phoenix

Science Guy: Dietrich Stephan

When Dietrich Stephan says he wants to cure diseases and eliminate suffering before he dies, he's not blowing sunshine. As director and senior investigator of the Neurogenomics Division of the Translational Genomics Research Institute, his job is, quite simply (ha!), to find out why we inherit the propensity for diseases like Alzheimer's and disorders such as schizophrenia. In just a few short years, TGen and Stephan have made remarkable discoveries regarding autism and Lou Gerhig's disease. This isn't rocket science, kids. It's a lot harder. Which is probably why this guy likes to toss himself down snowy mountains in his spare time. (We hope your knee has healed nicely, Dr. Stephan.)

I arrived in Phoenix in March 2003.

When I’m stuck in traffic, I contemplate ways to increase productivity in my research efforts.

One thing most people don’t know about me is I have a great sense of humor.

On Saturday night, you can find me enjoying a quiet, romantic dinner with my wife.

My favorite thing about summer in Phoenix is water-skiing.

If I could redo my first kiss, I’d kiss my wife, who is the greatest (and will hurt me if I don't say this).

The one dessert I refuse to eat is mince pie.

If I was mayor of Phoenix, I’d mandate solar power and subsidize it.

In high school, I was the kid who read Catcher in the Rye 23 times.

In another life, I was — scientifically speaking, I'm not sure that's possible.

On my nightstand, you’ll find The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran.

The fictional character I’m most like is Steve Austin.

One thing I want to do before I die is cure many diseases to eliminate suffering.

The best thing about Phoenix is — what's not to like?

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Amy Silverman is a two-time winner of the Arizona Press Club’s Journalist of the Year award. Her work has appeared on the radio show This American Life and in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Lenny Letter, and Brain, Child. She’s the co-curator of the live reading series Bar Flies, and a commentator for KJZZ, the NPR affiliate in Phoenix. Silverman is the author of the book My Heart Can’t Even Believe It: A Story of Science, Love, and Down Syndrome (Woodbine House 2016). Follow her on Instagram (@amysilverman), Twitter (@amysilvermanaz), and at