It is by following her heart that Chen Gao always finds value on the road to pursuing her dreams. Chen completed her BS in Biology at Nankai University in Tianjin, China. She earned her PhD in Molecular Biology here at UCLA under the supervision of Dr. Yibin Wang. Chen has also won the 2011 AHA BCVS (American Heart Association Basic Cardiovascular Scientific Sessions) Young Investigator Travel Award1 and the 2013 ISHR Richard J. Bing Award.
As college professors, my parents greatly influenced me by encouraging me to read. They cared not only about my education but the pursuit of my dreams. I was very much inspired by my mother when visiting her lab and watching her students perform experiments in very detailed and rigorous ways. I became interested in learning about biology and animals in high school. A lot changed when I at-tended Nankai University - I lost my grandmother, to whom I was very close, to lung cancer. This ignited a passion in me to save people from losing their loved ones or losing their own lives. I worked really hard as an undergraduate researcher in a cancer research lab while seeing others having fun. I interviewed at different graduate schools in the United States, but the summer research program at UCLA impressed me and I was given the opportunity to work with my mentor, Dr Yibin Wang, as a graduate student.
Dr. Wang taught me how to be creative which, along with remembering my passion, helped pave my path. My PhD project was also fun. Throughout the project, I learned how to troubleshoot, how to interpret my results, how to communicate my ideas, and how to think out of the box to chase bigger questions. I felt very fortunate as both a graduate student and postdoctoral fellow to study at UCLA as it has a large number of cardiovascular research facilities where you can meet many experts in cardiovascular diseases. There is such a willingness to collaborate with different labs, and it’s clear the principal investigators care so much for the success of young scientists.
Originally published in Circluation Review and written by Pam Goldberg-Smith