- What is your job title and affiliation?
I am a staff scientist at R&D Systems, Inc. in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
- Briefly tell us about your educational and career background.
I obtained my Bachelor of Medicine degree in China and completed my Ph.D. and postdoctoral training in Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology at the University of Toronto in Canada.
- What are your Board certifications?
I have just started my career and have not sat for the Boards yet, but I think that obtaining the Board Certifications would be a very enriching experience. In the future, I would love to take advantage of such opportunities.
- With which professional societies/organizations (e.g. AACC) are you involved?
I am a member of the AACC and AACR (American Association of Cancer Research).
- Just for fun, tell us a few interesting facts about yourself:
I am originally from China. I am married and have two sons, Daniel, 5 years old, and Matthew, 3 years old.
- Favorite places you have traveled
I love traveling and hiking. So far we have gone to Europe and my favorite place is the Alps. Since my kids are so young, we are taking a temporary break from some of these activities. Instead, we have a lot of fun “hiking” in the zoos. When my kids get older, I hope to have the opportunity to explore the rest of the world.
- Favorite book/movie
I like reading autobiographies when I have free time. The most recent one that I read is Hillary Clinton’s Living History.
- Most fun/adventurous thing you’ve ever done
The most adventurous thing I have ever done is probably accepting this interview! I would not consider myself as a “mentor”. But rather, I am just a young scientist like any one of you. But certainly, I would like to share my experiences and some thoughts with all my young colleagues.
- You were named AACC’s 2005 Young Investigator. Describe how you achieved this accomplishment and some of the keys to your success at such an early age.
I feel that I am very fortunate to have received this award. It is indeed a great encouragement for my career. I did my training in a great lab with a great mentor. I enjoyed what I did and I worked hard.
- What have been some of the keys to your success at such an early age?
I think the keys for a young scientist to gain success are to identify what they are most interested in and to find the right opportunity to obtain the appropriate training.
- Has there been an important mentor in your life? Please describe.
I owe a great deal of gratitude to my mentor, Dr. Eleftherios Diamandis. Over the past years, we together had many good times and a few bad moments. But no matter the situation, he always bore with me and guided me in the right direction. Without his advice and support, I would not stand where I am today. From him, I have learned not only science, but also how to be an enthusiastic researcher.
- What area(s) of clinical laboratory sciences are you most passionate about, and what initiated your interest in this (these) area(s)?
The area that I feel most passionate about is clinical diagnostics. I received my medical training in China. However, when a family move brought me to Canada, I could not continue in this profession. In order to get involved in a related field, I needed to obtain additional training. So I browsed the research areas of the faculty members at the University of Toronto on the web. I found what Dr. Diamandis was doing was most appealing to me. I gave him a call and luckily enough, he accepted me into his lab. While working in his lab, his passion for clinical diagnostics further influenced me.
- What are your goals for the next 5 years?
Currently, I am working as a staff scientist at R&D Systems, Inc. My main focus is to develop protease-related products for the research and diagnostic communities. For the next five years, my goals are to work hard and to identify opportunities to advance my career.
- What would be your most ideal job?
For me, the most ideal job position would be the one that allows me to do what I feel passionate about, to make achievements and to get recognized by my colleagues. It doesn’t matter whether it is in industry or academia.
- Do you find it challenging to achieve a quality work/life balance?
Yes, I do, since I have young children at this stage of my life. The kids’ activities consume quite a lot of my free time. The only time I can do something for myself is always after 10 at night. I feel that having a successful career and educating my children well are two important tasks in my life and I want to do well in both.
- What are your predictions for advances in laboratory medicine and/or your area over the next ten years?
For clinical diagnostics, I believe that the multimarker strategy will be a future direction. A major challenge that we are currently facing with this approach is which markers should be recruited in the panel. In recent years, more funding has been provided for biomarker-related research. With the discovery and validation of more novel markers, it will be easier to identify specific targets for diagnostic multimarker panel development.
- What do you see as the challenges facing young scientists in laboratory medicine?
As many mentors in the field have already pointed out, young scientists need to find out what they are passionate about and find the right training opportunities. From my own experience, I deeply feel that this is very true. Without passion for what you are doing, it can be difficult to make great achievements. However, we also need to realize that in reality, not everyone can obtain the ideal position that they want in the first place. This is especially true for us young scientists since we are inexperienced. So it is critical for us to develop skills to adjust to our work environment. Every job requires different sets of skills. It is important to try to identify the areas that you are not very good at and develop those areas. When we are equipped with more skills, it will be easier for us to advance our career. Patience and perseverance may pay off sometime down your career path.
- If you are involved in AACC or other professional organizations, how did you become involved and what advice do you have for young people wanting to get involved?
Currently, although I am not actively involved, I am looking for opportunities to do that. As many experts have already suggested, if you want to get involved, raise your hand. I think I will follow this advice.
- Do you have any other specific comments or advice that you like to provide to the members of SYCL?
Never stop learning and keep up to date with the advances in the areas that you are interested in. Be serious about your job and learn how to be independent.