Q&A with Dr. Milton Schiffenbauer, Professor of Biology at NYSCAS
Want to be a scientist? Why working in a laboratory setting is key to your success and more
1. Much of your research shows how we can combat viruses by drinking white tea. Can you tell us a bit about what you’re currently studying?
Previously, my research focused on the powers of white and green tea killing bacteria that is hard to treat with antibiotics, and we are continuing to study that area as it’s very interesting. We already know white tea comes from a plant like any other regular tea, but it grows only in March and contains a compound polyphenol that is found in many food products. The chemicals are so powerful that they can actually destroy viruses. Clinically, no one knows if it will work and it would take a few months to see a difference. Yet, in a laboratory, we have seen incredible results and the tea should work great to help people.
2. How involved are Touro students in your research? Why is it important that they also work in the lab?
My students are a huge part of all the research we do. Basically, I teach them about the correct technique and then they implement it to do the critical lab work. I have previous students who have left NYSCAS and continued their education to become dentists, physician assistants (PA), and doctors, and it amazes me that I was able to help them reach those huge career goals.
Two years ago in the lab, my students realized during experimentation that cinnamon destroys viruses and they ended up giving a whole presentation on their findings in New Orleans. This made me really proud!
Additionally, working in a lab is a great way to learn. Many of my students tell me that when they interview for their first job after receiving their degree, their hands on research experience gives them a leg up on competition.
3. Working in a lab sounds exciting but isn’t the easiest career path. Any advice for students who want to pursue a career as a scientist?
My advice to all students looking to jumpstart their career as a scientist is that they need to work at a lab as often as possible. Although reading biology books is key, a hands on approach to learning is just as crucial. Learn as many techniques as you can while in school and later on, the opportunities will be limitless.
4. What do you like most about teaching at Touro?
The students are such a pleasure and they make me feel young again. When they come back and say “because of you, every other course was easy,” that makes me feel important. When I convey information, they respond to it and that is very fulfilling.
5. We’re heading into cold and flu season. Any tips for staying healthy?
You can cut down your chances of suffering from a cold or the flu by eating as healthy as possible including nourishing your body with fresh fruits and vegetables. For people that think drinking diet soda is better for them than consuming regular drinks, you should know that these diet drinks actually contain chemicals which may interfere with you digestive system, so if possible put down that soda and drink some water.