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Cancer Tumors Run Hot and Cold 

December 13, 2022

Dr. Chen Wang completed her scientific training across multiple countries, including China and Germany, before coming to the United States to undertake a postdoctoral fellowship in the lab of Rugang Zhang, Ph.D. at The Wistar Institute. She conducts basic research to help improve immunotherapies to treat ovarian cancer.

Currently, Wang is identifying promising epigenetic targets in cancer-associated mesenchymal stem cells found in bone marrow. Epigenetic refers to reversible modifications that affect how genes work. These targets could enhance the immune system’s detection and attack on cancerous cells, turning “cold” tumors that do not trigger a strong immune response into immunologically “hot” tumors, which means they are more responsive to immunotherapies. In turning up the heat on tumors, this research could increase the efficacy of immunotherapies and ultimately prevent ovarian cancer progression.

Wistar connected with Dr. Wang to discuss her professional journey, how working at Wistar benefits her as a biomedical researcher, and advice on becoming a scientist.

Where are you from and what is your educational background?

I am from China. I received my bachelor’s degree at Huazhong University of Science and Technology. As an undergraduate, I gained an opportunity to conduct a short-term exchange to Philipps-Universität Marburg in Germany. This visit enabled me to conduct research under the supervision of Dr. Moritz Bünemann on the interactions of effector proteins with G proteins, specialized proteins involved in different cellular responses. I continued my academic research and obtained my Ph.D. in Cancer Epigenetics and Chemical Biology from Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2019.

What drew you to Wistar and what do you like about working here?

Wistar is a wonderful platform to do original thinking and breakthrough research as well as provides a community of collaboration. I like this environment because it encourages innovative ideas and a sense of cooperation.

Are there any differences or unique experiences you’ve had working in science in the U.S. compared to China?

In the U.S., I think I am very productive working in science. Wistar provides sufficient and productive Core facilities to help me efficiently move my research forward.

What is your favorite part of your role and your day?

My favorite part of my role and my day is to do interesting experiments and find surprising results.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to pursue science?

Always do good science and be very patient. It will eventually benefit you in one way or another.

Congratulations on receiving the Wistar Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Travel award. What does this opportunity mean for you?

This travel award will provide me with new conceptual training in ovarian cancer therapies and opportunities to better understand the mechanism underlying the development of ovarian cancer. Additionally, I will engage in advanced discussions with peers and scientists in the field and improve my communication and social skills in the scientific community.