Greg Belenky launched the Sleep and Performance Research Center at Washington State University Spokane, reports The Spokesman-Review.

S-R: Did you have a mentor?

Belenky: Bill Dement at Stanford, the father of sleep medicine in the U.S. and a wonderful person – still active in his mid-80s. Once, after we’d kept a cat awake 60 days by hand, somebody dropped the ball and the cat escaped. Bill was furious, and bellowed, “Take nothing for granted!” But he pronounced it “granite,” not “granted.” So I always say, “Take nothing for granite.” (laugh)

S-R: How did you see yourself spending your career?

Belenky: Seated beside a couch, helping patients navigate those times in their lives when decisions are really critical.

S-R: What happened?

Belenky: I had a military obligation – there was still a draft – and I could have done my two years as a general medical officer at an Army base. But I agreed to give them three years if I could have a research assignment. So they sent me to Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, and I ended up staying 29 years, two months and 24 days. I’m one of the few military people who had one assignment their whole career.