Jason Clarke is a researcher for the University
of Iowa. He worked his way up from a dishwasher at a lab at the University of Michigan to
become a full time researcher and scientist and joined the University of Iowa staff in
2007. I do kidney research, molecular biology, in the department of pediatrics. I study normal
and abnormal kidney development in the molecular level and genetic level. One of the research
projects I work on is a very rare birth defect that I stumbled on years ago in the mice I
was working with. We were crossing mice together for a certain reason, but we wound up recreating
a birth defect that’s rare in humans. Nobody was doing research on it. I had the mice that
could duplicate it. We were going to try to find the genetic causes of that birth defect
in humans. It’s called bilateral renal agenesis. In babies, they’re being born without either
kidney. It’s a lethal birth defect. We’re really the only research lab in the world
that’s doing that research right now. Jason loves his job. He is able to conduct cutting
edge research for the University of Iowa and works in an industry he enjoys. But Jason
has another passion, one that not many of his co-workers know about. He is the owner
and head instructor at Iowa City Brazilian Jujitsu, which is a form of marital arts.
While he spends his days in a lab examining microscopic proteins and DNA, he spends his
nights at the gym, on a mat, teaching others about Brazilian Jujitsu, which he has been
involved in since he was a kid.I’ve been in martial arts since I was 7. I don’t remember
a life without some sort of martial art in my life, all because of Bruce Lee probably.
I didn’t grow up in the best neighborhoods, so there as a necessity for it at the time,
and I moved around a lot so I got beat up a lot. So there was a necessity for martial
arts in my life. Brazilian Jujitsu is a grappling martial art developing in Brazil in the early
1900s. Using various holds, throws, takedowns, chokes and strikes, BJJ is a method of self
defense that doesn’t rely on strength or power, but knowledge of leverage and anatomy
to subdue an attacker. You’ll find that most guys who do Brazilian Jujitsu tend to
be a little bit more cerebral; they need more of a mental challenge as well as a physical
challenge. You really get that with bjj versus any other martial art.
BJJ provides a mental and physical workout. That’s why Iowa senior Shane Burtzlaff got
involved in the sport. He was looking for something to keep him in shape after learning
in high school that he couldn’t play football anymore. The beginning of my senior year in
HS, they found a cyst in my jaw that had eaten away all the bone basically on this side of
my jaw. They told me I couldn’t play football, I couldn’t wrestle, and that’s when I
started doing JJ and MT, which you would think that sounds pretty stupid to start that after
being told no contact. I could practice and not compete or not spar and still learn technique.
Shane trained and trained and was eventually cleared to start competing in Mixed Martial
Arts bouts. His overall record in 9-4, and notices a benefit in the classroom after working
out. When I leave this gym, I feel great, physically, mentally. There will be days I
don’t want to come and I’m tired, and when I leave I feel great. I’m able to go
and do homework. I’m a little bit more focused. BJJ has also helped Jason outside of the gym
as well. Part of BJJ is the ability to escape a stressful situation, which can help in the
lab, and in life as well. It carries over off the mat too because you get to handle
a stressful situation for somebody’s who’s not used to it, but over time, they get used
to being in that environment and they keep a very cool head. And that will carry over
off the mat when you’re negotiating for a salary or you’re giving a presentation.
I have to give PowerPoint presentations in my day job and its nervous to get up there
and talk in front of people. But then I remember I can do things that make me nervous and keep
a cool head. I do it all the time here.