Current Title and Department: PhD candidate, Department of Surgery
Current Employer: University of Alberta
Undergraduate Degree, University: Chinese University of Hong Kong
Graduate Degree, University: RWTH Aachen University
Mentors: Dr. Adetola Adesida

Could you describe the path you’ve taken in meniscus research? How did it evolve?
My journey in meniscus research began with a diverse background in Biomedical Engineering, exploring everything from cell studies to clinical trials. Tissue engineering particularly captivated me. My pivotal moment was joining Dr. Adesida’s lab, known for its expertise in cartilage tissue research. There, I was drawn to a project that merged meniscus research with the concept of simulated microgravity, further igniting my interest. This led me to delve deeper into the field, enhancing my understanding of the meniscus and its associated research areas.

When you started in meniscus research, what was your biggest question? Do you think it’s answered?
When I started in meniscus research, my biggest question was how to understand and replicate the tissue, considering its complex and heterogeneous nature. I believe we are still on the path to fully answering this question. The advancements in single cell RNA sequencing and material science are significant steps forward, yet the complete replication and understanding of meniscus tissue in all its complexity remain a work in progress.

What collaboration was the most unexpected of your career? How did it impact your work today?
The most unexpected collaboration in my career has been with computational analysis and data science, especially with the rapid development of artificial intelligence tools. While technologies allow us to generate diverse omics data, our ability to fully interpret this data is still quite limited. The assistance from advanced data science models has become incredibly important. This collaboration has significantly impacted my work by enhancing our understanding and analysis of complex biological data, leading to more insightful and comprehensive research outcomes.

In your opinion, what is the current open question in the meniscus field right now?
Right now, the biggest question in our field is still figuring out how to fully integrate and make long-lasting functional meniscal tissue repairs or replacements in the knee joint. This challenge spans across understanding the meniscus’s basic biology, selecting the right cell sources, leveraging advanced material science and manufacturing technologies, and applying external mechanical and chemical cues.

What advice would you give investigators who are just starting out in the field?
As I’m currently approaching the end of my PhD program, I am actually in a position where I am seeking advice for future steps in my career. I am more than welcome to receive advice and guidance from those experienced in the field. If you have insights or suggestions for steps to take following the completion of a PhD program, or if you are interested in discussing potential postdoc opportunities, please feel free to contact me through my email. Your advice would be greatly appreciated as I navigate the transition from academia to the next phase of my career.

When you’re not in the lab, what do you like to do for fun?
When I’m not in the lab, I really dive into my love for sports, especially climbing. It’s become my biggest passion lately. There’s something about challenging myself on the climb that I find incredibly rewarding. Plus, I cherish the time spent in nature. Being close to one of Canada’s most beautiful national parks is a blessing. Just a couple of hours’ drive, and I’m in the midst of breathtaking landscapes. It’s my perfect escape, a way to reconnect and ground myself after intense periods of research.

What is the most unusual/unexpected item sitting on your desk right now?
Right now, the most unusual thing on my desk is a note from my physiotherapist with tips on knee protection and strengthening. It feels like a nudge from the universe towards my meniscus research, especially since I injured my meniscus running a marathon at 20. Perhaps it’s the universe’s way of joking, suggesting that if facing challenges with something, why not dive in and research it?