TMU PhD Student Fang-Chi Hsu Went to Johns Hopkins University for a Year of Research upon Receiving a Subsidy Provided by the Ministry of Science and Technology

Source: College of Medical Science and Technology

Published on 2020-10-05

Encouraged by teachers and classmates, Fang-Chi Hsu, a PhD Student of the PhD Program for Transcriptional Medicine of the College of Medical Science and Technology, Taipei Medical University, departed for Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center (SKCCC) of Johns Hopkins University (JHU) in 2020 for a year of research upon receiving a subsidy through the Graduate Student Study Abroad Program provided by the Ministry of Science and Technology.

Under the guidance of Professor Alison P. Klein, he participated in a large-scale, multi-country, and multi-center pancreatic gene analysis project, employing new algorithms to find the causative genes of pancreatic cancer from sequencing data of patients. Possible message pathways were then predicted and used as an important basis for new drugs and early diagnosis.

Fang-Chi Hsu (left) and his advisor, Dr. Alison P. Klein

Fan-Chi Hsu described how he was deeply impressed by the integration of research teams and resources around the world to accelerate the research and the meticulous research attitude demonstrated by a world-leading research team during his time at Johns Hopkins. He also came to learn how the preparation of good pipelines and standard specifications at the beginning of the research could contribute to the competitiveness of the team, especially when working on sequencing data with high levels of ambiguity.

Fang-Chi Hsu (left) and Professor Gregg L. Semenza, Nobel Prize winner in 2019

Another thing that surprised Fan-Chi Hsu was the balance between research and life of local researchers. When I first arrived in Baltimore, I stayed in a dormitory packed with people from the Netherlands. In this European-style living environment, I could clearly sense that their lifestyle was distinctly different from that of the American style and Taiwanese research style. First, the backgrounds of my roommates were highly diverse. There were surgeons just starting their study, researchers that were already assistant professors, medical students that were on exchange visits, and post-doctoral researchers.

As everyone’s work schedule and workloads were different, my life normally consisted solely of going home and cooking at night and laboratory work in the daytime. The leisure activities of the workaholics were always carried out during a short period after dinner and the evenings of the weekends. We would always bring food and beverages to the sofa area. Although the topics often returned to research work after a short while, we could always appropriately provide professional suggestions and even brand-new ideas to each other. Due to the history of Taiwan, when I mentioned that Taiwan had been ruled by the Dutch, the name Zeelandia triggered considerable excitement. During these times, in addition to interacting with roommates in everyday life, I also came to meet colleagues and scholars from different countries. The mutual understanding and learning of the cultures and ideas of each other during the process of communicating and sharing was truly a rare experience.

Fan-Chi Hsu (third left) attending the annual dinner of the Department of Pathology at Johns Hopkins University

In translational medical research, the main feature is the “cross-field”. The combination of clinical medicine and basic subjects is emphasized, driving researchers to learn different professional knowledge. When different mindsets come across, the best solution is to seek common ground while reserving the differences of each field, and then put it into action quickly.

“Try not to be the first one, try to be the unique one.”— Fan-Chi Hsu

In the future medical research environment, teams that achieve the highest total collective score will be awarded rather than the gifted students with the highest scores in a single subject in a field. Under such a competition mechanism, we should not blindly strive to be the fastest or the best; instead, we should try to utilize the existing resources to demonstrate unique values and insights, and accumulate advantages from the encouragements and compromises of different partners.

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