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Meet the man hip-hop stars and history teachers can't get enough of.

Lin-Manuel Miranda is young, scrappy, and performing at the Grammys.

Meet the man hip-hop stars and history teachers can't get enough of.

1. Lin-Manuel Miranda is a genius. Seriously. He has the award to prove it.

Miranda was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2015, an award that's commonly referred to as the "Genius Grant." For his creativity, talent, and potential, Miranda (and each of the 23 other greats) receive a $625,000 fellowship, paid out over the next five years.


Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images for AWXII.

2. Not only is he a genius, but he's a freakin' freestyle mastermind.

Miranda is a lifelong hip-hop fan, which explains the Mobb Deep, DMX, and Biggie references peppered throughout "Hamilton."

But did you know he's also a member of a hip-hop improv group called Freestyle Love Supreme? The troupe has performed at comedy festivals and a handful of colleges around the country.

3. Before he wrote "Hamilton," he worked on "Bring It On: The Musical." How he remains so humble is beyond me.

True story.

In 2012, Miranda co-wrote the lyrics for "Bring It On: The Musical." Let me know if that little nugget helps you win trivia someday.

Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images.

4. In 2013, Miranda appeared on one of the lowest-rated TV shows of all time. Seriously. ALL TIME.

It was a very short-lived NBC drama called "Do No Harm," which holds the infamous distinction of being the lowest-rated in-season broadcast scripted series debut since 1987 and the least watched drama premiere, at least on the big four broadcast networks (NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox).

Needless to say, the man knows defeat, which probably makes his recent victories that much sweeter.

Miranda, third from left, with the cast of "Do No Harm." Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images.

5. In between those projects, Miranda found time to write some award-winning, mind-melting songs for Neil Patrick Harris.

Remember the 2013 Tony Awards where Neil Patrick Harris closed the show with a mind-blowing song and dance number that accurately referenced events that transpired during the awards ceremony? Events that couldn't have been predicted or planned for? Harris has Miranda to thank for working behind the scenes throughout the broadcast to frantically write the song as the show aired. See what I mean about improvisational mastermind?

Miranda's efforts paid off — he won a Creative Arts Emmy for co-writing the hilarious opening song and impressive closing number for Harris.

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.

6. He also found a minute (or several thousand minutes) to write "Hamilton," a process which began as most musicals do, while he was on vacation.

In 2008, Miranda picked up a copy of Ron Chernow's 832-page Hamilton biography to read on vacation (as one does), and after reading the book, he fell in love with Hamilton's life and story. In Hamilton, he saw glimpses of his father ... and Tupac Shakur.

The biography was the story of an immigrant with serious command of rhetoric who made something from nothing, yet most people barely recognize him from the 10-dollar bill.

Photo by Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images.

Miranda started working on a possible concept album straightaway, and just a few months later, he actually performed a song for President Obama and the first lady when he was invited by the White House to join the slate of performers putting on a show about the "American experience."

Many years and countless hours later, the mixtape was set aside, but a musical was born.

"Hamilton" is a huge success. Thanks, Obama. Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images.

7. Tickets to "Hamilton" are really, really hard to get — with one fantastic exception.

Given its historical subject matter, Miranda was frequently asked how to make "Hamilton" accessible to more young people. So he made it a priority. Now, the show's producers, in partnership with The Rockefeller Foundation, have agreed to finance a program to bring 11th graders from New York City schools (particularly those with a high number of kids living in poverty) to see "Hamilton." Not just students from one school, or even 10. We're talking 20,000 high-school juniors over the course of a year.

“If we can excite curiosity in students, there’s no telling what can happen next,” Miranda said while announcing the program.

Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images.

8. As if the spectacular success of "Hamilton" wasn't enough, Miranda also wrote music for "Star Wars" and is starting work on a Disney film.

Fresh off writing the cantina music for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," Miranda is hard at work on the music for "Moana," an upcoming animated feature from Disney. He was recently in the recording booth with one of the film's star's, Dwayne "The Rock"Johnson.

Lin Manuel Miranda is Broadway's King - bad ass and an honor for me to sing and rap the music he's created for our movie. Creator and star of HAMILTON and IN THE HEIGHTS - as a composer and lyricist it's been an unreal "Master Class" for me to witness and learn. I'm just trying to keep up 😂. I have a feeling our animated musical is gonna be insanely dope. #Disney #MOANA #DontSleepOnMySpitSkills #NOV2016
A photo posted by therock (@therock) on

9. Then, for good measure, he performed at the Grammys AND WON.

Miranda and his multitalented cast performed at the Grammys live via satellite from the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York. In the show's 58-year history, this was only the eighth time it included a musical theater number and the fourth time it featured a number presented live via satellite. Shortly after, they took home the Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album.

GIF via "The Grammys."

10. Because if you're Lin-Manuel Miranda, you know just how powerful art can be.

And you can't stop (won't stop) sharing it with everyone you can.

So, if you're not already, get wise to Lin-Manuel Miranda.

When all seemed lost, he managed to make history, long hair on dudes, and musical theater cool again. That's no small feat. Here's to you, sir.

OK, he really says, "Alexander Hamilton," but you get it right? GIF via "The Grammys."

via PeopleStanding / Instagram

One of the best things about social media is that there are some pages that deputize the general public to find great content and submit it to be published. It's like harnessing a mind-hive of funny to create a place where it can be enjoyed by everyone.

The People Standing page on Instagram is a great example of this type of crowdsourcing for comedy. The site has over 140,000 followers and features candid, user-submitted pictures of people standing awkwardly that were taken all over the globe.

Here are 17 of the best.

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via PeopleStanding / Instagram

One of the best things about social media is that there are some pages that deputize the general public to find great content and submit it to be published. It's like harnessing a mind-hive of funny to create a place where it can be enjoyed by everyone.

The People Standing page on Instagram is a great example of this type of crowdsourcing for comedy. The site has over 140,000 followers and features candid, user-submitted pictures of people standing awkwardly that were taken all over the globe.

Here are 17 of the best.

Keep Reading Show less
True

Each year, an estimated 1.8 million people in the United States are affected by cancer — most commonly cancers of the breast, lung, prostate, and blood cancers such as leukemia. While not everyone overcomes the disease, thanks to science, more people are surviving — and for longer — than ever before in history.

We asked three people whose lives have been impacted by cancer to share their stories – how their lives were changed by the disease, and how they're using that experience to change the future of cancer treatments with the hope that ultimately, in the fight against cancer, science will win. Here's what they had to say.

Celine Ryan, 55, engineer database programmer and mother of five from Detroit, MI

Photo courtesy of Celine Ryan

In September 2013, Celine Ryan woke up from a colonoscopy to some traumatic news. Her gastroenterologist showed her a picture of the cancerous mass they found during the procedure.

Ryan and her husband, Patrick, had scheduled a colonoscopy after discovering some unusual bleeding, so the suspicion she could have cancer was already there. Neither of them, however, were quite prepared for the results to be positive -- or for the treatment to begin so soon. Just two days after learning the news, Ryan had surgery to remove the tumor, part of her bladder, and 17 cancerous lymph nodes. Chemotherapy and radiation soon followed.

Ryan's treatment was rigorous – but in December 2014, she got the devastating news that the cancer, once confined to her colon, had spread to her lungs. Her prognosis, they said, was likely terminal.

But rather than give up hope, Ryan sought support from online research, fellow cancer patients and survivors, and her medical team. When she brought up immunotherapy to her oncologist, he quickly agreed it was the best course of action. Ryan's cancer, like a majority of colon and pancreatic cancers, had been caused by a defect on the gene KRAS, which can result in a very aggressive cancer that is virtually "undruggable." According to the medical literature, the relatively smooth protein structure of the KRAS gene meant that designing inhibitors to bind to surface grooves and treat the cancer has been historically difficult. Through her support systems, Ryan discovered an experimental immunotherapy trial at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD., and called them immediately to see if she was eligible. After months of trying to determine whether she was a suitable candidate for the experimental treatment, Ryan was finally accepted.

The treatment, known as tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte therapy, or TIL, is a testament to how far modern science has evolved. With this therapy, doctors remove a tumor and harvest special immune cells that are found naturally in the tumor. Doctors then grow the cells in a lab over the next several weeks with a protein that promotes rapid TIL growth – and once the cells number into the billions, they are infused back into the patient's body to fight the cancer. On April 1, 2015, Ryan had her tumor removed at the NIH. Two months later, she went inpatient for four weeks to have the team "wash out" her immune system with chemotherapy and infuse the cells – all 148 billion of them – back into her body.

Six weeks after the infusion, Ryan and Patrick went back for a follow-up appointment – and the news they got was stunning: Not only had no new tumors developed, but the six existing tumors in her lungs had shrunk significantly. Less than a year after her cell infusion, in April 2016, the doctors told Ryan news that would have been impossible just a decade earlier: Thanks to the cell infusion, Ryan was now considered NED – no evaluable disease. Her body was cancer-free.

Ryan is still NED today and continuing annual follow-up appointments at the NIH, experiencing things she never dreamed she'd be able to live to see, such as her children's high school and college graduations. She's also donating her blood and cells to the NIH to help them research other potential cancer treatments. "It was an honor to do so," Ryan said of her experience. "I'm just thrilled, and I hope my experience can help a lot more people."

Patrice Lee, PhD, VP of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Exploratory Development at Pfizer

Photo courtesy of Patrice Lee

Patrice Lee got into scientific research in an unconventional way – through the late ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.

Lee never met Cousteau but her dreams of working with him one day led her to pursue a career in science. Initially, Lee completed an undergraduate degree in marine biology; eventually, her interests changed and she decided to get a dual doctoral degree in physiology and toxicology at Duke University. She now works at Pfizer's R&D site in Boulder, CO (formerly Array BioPharma), leading a group of scientists who determine the safety and efficacy of new oncology drugs.

"Scientists focused on drug discovery and development in the pharmaceutical industry are deeply committed to inventing new therapies to meet unmet needs," Lee says, describing her field of work. "We're driven to achieve new medicines and vaccines as quickly as possible without sacrificing safety."

Among the drugs Lee has helped develop during her career, including cancer therapies, she says around a dozen are currently in development, while nine have received FDA approval — an incredible accomplishment as many scientists spend their careers without seeing their drug make it to market. Lee's team is particularly interested in therapies for brain metastases — something that Lee says is a largely unmet need in cancer research, and something her team is working on from a variety of angles. "Now that we've had rapid success with mRNA vaccine technology, we hope to explore what the future holds when applying this technology to cancers," Lee says.

But while evaluating potential cancer therapies is a professional passion of Lee's, it's also a mission that's deeply personal. "I'm also a breast cancer survivor," she says. "So I've been on the other side of things and have participated in a clinical trial."

However, seeing how melanoma therapies that she helped develop have affected other real-life cancer patients, she says, has been a highlight of her career. "We had one therapy that was approved for patients with BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma," Lee recalls. "Our team in Boulder was graced by a visit from a patient that had benefited from these drugs that we developed. It was a very special moment for the entire team."

None of these therapies would be available, Lee says without rigorous science behind it: "Facts come from good science. Facts will drive the development of new drugs, and that's what will help patients."

Chiuying "Cynthia" Kuk (they/them) MS, 34, third-year medical student at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

Photo courtesy of Cynthia Kuk

Cynthia Kuk was just 10 years old when they had a conversation that would change their life forever.

"My mother, who worked as a translator for the government at the time, had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and after her chemotherapy treatments she would get really sick," Kuk, who uses they/them pronouns, recalls. "When I asked my dad why mom was puking so much, he said it was because of the medicine she was taking that would help her get better."

Kuk's response was immediate: "That's so stupid! Why would a medicine make you feel worse instead of better? When I'm older, I want to create medicine that won't make people sick like that."

Nine years later, Kuk traveled from their native Hong Kong to the United States to do exactly that. Kuk enrolled in a small, liberal arts college for their Bachelor's degree, and then four years later started a PhD program in cancer research. Although Kuk's mother was in remission from her cancer at the time, Kuk's goal was the same as it had been as a 10-year-old watching her suffer through chemotherapy: to design a better cancer treatment, and change the landscape of cancer research forever.

Since then, Kuk's mission has changed slightly.

"My mom's cancer relapsed in 2008, and she ended up passing away about five years after that," Kuk says. "After my mom died, I started having this sense of urgency. Cancer research is such that you work for twenty years, and at the end of it you might have a fancy medication that could help people, but I wanted to help people now." With their mother still at the forefront of their mind, Kuk decided to quit their PhD program and enter medical school.

Now, Kuk plans to pursue a career in emergency medicine – not only because they are drawn to the excitement of the emergency room, but because the ER is a place where the most marginalized people tend to seek care.

"I have a special interest in the LGBTQ+ population, as I identify as queer and nonbinary," says Kuk. "A lot of people in this community and other marginalized communities access care through the ER and also tend to avoid medical care since there is a history of mistreatment and judgement from healthcare workers. How you carry yourself as a doctor, your compassion, that can make a huge difference in someone's care."

In addition to making a difference in the lives of LGBTQ+ patients, Kuk wants to make a difference in the lives of patients with cancer as well, like their mother had.

"We've diagnosed patients in the Emergency Department with cancer before," Kuk says. "I can't make cancer good news but how you deliver bad news and the compassion you show could make a world of difference to that patient and their family."

During their training, Kuk advocates for patients by delivering compassionate and inclusive care, whether they happen to have cancer or not. In addition to emphasizing their patient's pronouns and chosen names, they ask for inclusive social and sexual histories as well as using gender neutral language. In doing this, they hope to make medicine as a whole more accessible for people who have been historically pushed aside.

"I'm just one person, and I can't force everyone to respect you, if you're marginalized," Kuk says. "But I do want to push for a culture where people appreciate others who are different from them."