JUSTL participant: Dr Jack Wai Ho Tang
Dr Jack Wai Ho Tang is a Principal Investigator in the Institute of Paediatrics at the Guangzhou Women and Children’s Medical Center, Guangzhou Medical University (Guangzhou, China). He graduated with a PhD from the laboratory of Prof Stephen SM Chung in the Department of Physiology at the University of Hong Kong, where he studied diabetic complications of cardiovascular disease, especially how the polyol (glucose toxicity) pathway contributes to diabetic complications. After graduating with his PhD in 2010, Dr Tang then spent four years in post-doctoral training at the Cardiovascular Research Centre at the Yale University School of Medicine (New Haven, CT, USA), where he discovered that diabetic patients are more likely to suffer from stroke and heart attack due to high levels of glucose in the platelets, which result in their hyper-activity or even apoptosis (programmed cell death).
Dr Tang established his own laboratory in Guangzhou in 2015. He is still working with platelets but rather than focussing on hyper-activity and apoptosis, he is investigating how platelets transfer their cellular contents (including proteins, micro-RNA and mitochondria) to other vascular cells, and in this way regulate the function of other cell types. Dr Tang continues to have an active collaboration with his PhD mentor (Prof Stephen Chung), who is now the Dean of Science and Technology at the United International College, Zhuhai (China), and his post-doctoral mentor, Prof John Hwa, in the Cardiovascular Research Centre at Yale University.
Dr Tang joined the JUSTL programme in 2008. He divided his time between his own project mentored by the JUSTL Director and Co-director, Profs Andrew L. Miller and Robert Baker, and a project conducted by Prof Paul Malchow (University of Illinois at Chicago). In the first project, Dr Tang investigated the effect of hyperglycemia on heart development in zebrafish embryos, whereas in the second project, he used various pH-sensitive fluorescent dyes to measure changes in pH on the retinal cell membrane.
In addition to experiments, Dr Tang also attended several lectures and seminars where he learned about new cutting-edge techniques and the latest research findings of scientists from top-class universities around the world. Dr Tang recalls that the most impressive thing about the MBL was that the environment was very favourable for scientific exchange with regards to both knowledge and techniques. This showed him how people make connections and establish collaborations, and made him understand the importance of communication for the development of a successful research and academic environment. Dr Tang firmly believes that attending the JUSTL programme helped his career. He had attended conferences in the US before but this was the first time he had experienced how scientists in the US run their laboratories. This gave him to confidence to apply for post-doctoral training outside Hong Kong after he had completed his PhD training.