“Ithaca gave to you the beautiful journey;
without her you’d not have set upon the road.”
Professor Lin started his lab at TMU in viral infectious diseases and viral oncolytics, emphasizing both international participation and teamwork. “Shu Hui’s project is finding better ways to use a viral vector to fight disease,” he said. “She’s coming up with good ideas.”
“It’s a booming field,” Professor Lin said. “This is the dawn of biological therapies. These viral particles can be tailored to individual patients as a type of personalized medicine, which is promising given the variations observed in tumor types from patient to patient.” This kind of research isn’t ready for “bedside” treatment applications in Taiwan yet, but a few such treatments have been approved abroad: Oncorine in China and T-Vec in the US, with the latter being a herpesvirus-based vector approved by the FDA to fight melanoma.
He said that his lab is “looking for other opportunities” for international collaboration. “Since TMU is focused on medicine and isn’t a huge university, other institutions can help our students diversify their expertise and interests. Sending students abroad is an excellent way to build their skills — and to build bridges that will be useful in their later careers.”
Professor Lin is also excited about working with University of Cagliari Professor Enzo Tramontano to develop novel antivirals targeting HIV. This Italian virologist has a world-renowned “antiviral summer school” program that gathers researchers as well as product engineers from industry in this specialty for two weeks of networking and brainstorming. Several TMU students have participated in this event, including Professor Lin’s students.
Another promising destination for TMU’s global cooperation is Dalhousie University in Halifax, which has the Canadian Center for Vaccinology, and is a hub to several prominent laboratories developing viral oncolytics. TMU recently established a joint PhD program with Dalhousie University to help students access these training opportunities, with a MD-PhD student from Professor Lin’s lab currently enrolled.
Professor Lin also recently completed a pilot project on viral oncolytics with Case Western Reserve University, arguably TMU’s most important global partner. Case Western Reserve University has several areas of expertise that complement TMU’s research endeavors, Professor Lin said.
TMU continues to increase the numbers of domestic students it sends abroad for international training opportunities, as well as the students from Burkina Faso, Singapore and other nations who first landed to pursue their studies in Taipei but have been placed in research institutions worldwide. For some people, repeated adjustments to new cultures may sound like an ordeal, but these young scientists find it rewarding.
“I want to move as much as I can in my career,” Shu Hui said. “If you stay too long, you stagnate.” She has been home twice in her 14 TMU months, and says her family is supportive of her self-sufficient and independent path toward a scientific research career: “I don’t expect to get rich, but this is a way to do what I love.”