I knew I wanted to be a scientist when… I was a young kid going into labs, watching experiments being performed and seeing something exciting happen. The moment I truly knew was when I was an honours student at the University of Hong Kong, working full time in the lab. I was surrounded by such brilliant and passionate peers and had a very good mentor.
When I meet someone new, I explain what I do as… making something magical in the test tube. I work across multiple scientific disciplines: imaging (seeing proteins and genes through a microscopic level), genomics (sequencing DNA mutations associated with disease), and inflammation (looking at its role in all diseases). I also work with cutting-edge technology such as spatial omics, which is a marriage between imaging and genomics that allows us to look at thousands of biomolecules at the same time.
What I love about imaging is… that a picture is worth a thousand words. The imaging lab help us to see in real time, with our own eyes, what is going on inside a body. With new technology such as multiplex imaging, we can now not only look at one, but hundreds of proteins in the tissue. This means we can see patterns and identify the root cause of diseases, eventually translate to better treatment options.
The thing I’m proudest of is… taking beautiful photos of bone tissue. Bone tissue is a complex organ as the bone is solid, but the bone marrow inside is soft. Historically, it has been very difficult to handle. With my new protocol, I can process and maintain tissue integrity, create high resolution imaging, and gain unprecedented insights into bone tissue.
I hope my team’s research will make an impact by… understanding how cancer cells survive and metastasise (spread). The spatial omics research holds great potential when investigating diseases and how they operate. This means we can treat patients more precisely and see our findings move from lab to bedside.
I love being a scientist at WEHI because… we invest in both cutting-edge technology and researchers, which ensures that talented and diverse people come through the door. There is an atmosphere of collaboration, with clinicians and research scientists working together, which has led to big achievements. WEHI’s commitment to investing in cutting-edge technology provides me with valuable opportunities to explore and delve deeper into my research.
When I’m not in the lab, I like to… garden and cook! I enjoy making baked desserts such as cheesecake and lemon tarts. I find it satisfying and can share with my family and friends. I just hate the washing up part!