Building a Programming Language for Genetic Engineering — Part 1 — How it All Started
From the day I remember myself I was always curious about life, questioning rules and norms, pushing boundaries, and doing things my way.
When you are a kid at school, as soon as the other kids realize there is something different in you, the sooner you become a target for shunning. And my case was no exception.
As a consequence for these attacks at the age of 14 I developed a severe Crohn’s disease. After a year of receiving medical treatment that included steroids and chemotherapy that didn’t worked and just made a lot more damage, I started to question the quality of the treatment.
It took me time to realize, a year later in fact, that the steroids I took, and the ‘personal treatment’ that was offered to me implicitly as part of a ‘next generation treatment’ that the hospital was kind enough to offer if I participate in their research was hurting me bad for their own benefit.
With the feeling of being used as a lab rat, I went to one of the doctors who treated me, looked straight in his eyes and said to him that from now on I quit all medical treatment and start to fix myself by myself. I hated him so much.
At the age of 20, in my second year of Electrical Engineering, and a few months after my grandad passed away from cancer at my birthday, something really terrible had happened. I was at a severe life risk due to a complication of a bowl inflammation, and after a very traumatic procedure without anesthetics I found myself with a drain pipe connected to my stomach.
My life stopped. For 1 year I stayed at home, no one came to visit, I lived in the shadows with a side bag that carried the drain bag. I didn’t eat human food and this painful drain pipe was a really really traumatic experience. There were times that I surrendered myself to the world and just wanted to die.
I did everything I could to recover but I couldn’t by my own. A surgery that I was really scared of was really needed. To add to the drama, the surgeon who treated me for 6 months clarified to me that he is not sure if he is the one that will do the surgery if I won’t pay him privately.
It took me 6 more months to find a sharp surgeon — that is a human being first. Dr. Dan Zror, the best of the best, I asked him to do the surgery privately but he refused saying that it’s too dangerous and that I better do it in a public hospital where he worked.
Dr. Dan Zror saved my life, and from there on I am an healthy person. I love him and he will forever be my guarding angel.
Appetite for life
After you experience such a severe life threatening situation when you realize that you could die or become a disabled person for the rest of your life something about the perspective of life changes forever. I said to myself, Eliad look, you are going to live only once, so you must live life to the fullest, do really great things, go full power and accomplish your wildest dreams.
When I came back to university I developed an obsession for reading physics, biology, and especially software development books.
One day at the library I noticed a red book with a dragon and a knight typing on a computer. Wow I said. And there it was — “Compilers — Principles, Techniques, and Tools” (aka the Dragon book). This is one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read. From there on at the age of 21 I become obsessed about designing compilers and compiler compilers which are tools to build compilers.
With the new knowledge I gained in software development I started to work at one of the robotics laboratories at the university. From surgical robots to combat vehicles. Soon everyone knew that I am that baddest motherfucker kid who could build anything.
One day I entered the lab and I saw for the first time of my life a magnificent shining new 3D printer. I was amazed. I also herd that it has an unmatched resolution for that time of 50 micron.
It took me a week to think about it and then came an idea that changed my life forever.
Wait a minute, I said — Biology, Compilers, 3D Printer, Optical Tweezers, DNA!
And then came that moment — “Yes, I am going to do this. I am going to devote my life for building a programming language for Genetic Engineering”.
From the bottom to the top. Sometimes the hardest situations in life serve as an important breaking point where you must pause, breathe and recalibrate. To go hard for the win. Stay tuned for part 2.