Succesful Story – 3 Transautophagy labs, 3 autophagy topics, 3 cultures and 3 languages- A multidisciplinary and multicultural research experience on autophagy, by Dr. Fengjuan Wang

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3 Transautophagy labs, 3 autophagy topics, 3 cultures and 3 languages

– A multidisciplinary and multicultural research experience on autophagy

Dr. Fengjuan Wang

 

I grew up in Yichang, a medium-size and beautiful city in China, and I dreamed of travelling around the world, speaking many languages and making an impact to the world, like many of my friends back then. In 2008, when the first edition of the guidelines for the use and interpretation of assays for monitoring autophagy in higher eukaryotes was published, I was 21 years old, I moved to Ireland to pursuit my PhD degree and I was introduced to autophagy and European cultures. From then on, my life has always been about exploring autophagy in various scientific contexts and adapting myself in different European cultures.

Fengjuan WANG

 
My PhD research was carried out in University College Dublin under the supervision of Prof. Kenneth Dawson, where I have studied the interactions between nanoparticles and cells in the context of bionanoscience and nanomedicine. We have found that most nanoparticles accumulate to lysosomes, and some nanoparticles (cationic) cause lysosomal dysfunction and interact with macroautophagy pathway. In order to deepen the study on how cationic nanoparticles interact with macroautophagy, I have obtained an EpitopeMap grant (from European Science Foundation) to visit the lab of Dr. Patricia Boya in Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas in Madrid (CIB-CSIC, Spain), where my research has greatly benefited from her expertise in autophagy and lysosomes. We have shown that these nanoparticles block macroautophagy and cause lysosomal membrane permeabilization. Following my short stay at Dr. Boya’s lab, I have obtained a postdoctoral position in the Université de Strasbourg in the lab of Prof. Sylviane Muller (CNRS, France), where we have discovered the malfunction of chaperone-mediated autophagy in lupus, a systemic autoimmune disease, and we have demonstrated that a therapeutic phosphopeptide, identified earlier, could target this autophagic pathway and improve lupus conditions.

 

In these three labs, all members of Transautophagy, I have been involved in research which have had made significant impact on understanding the role of autophagy in disease, leading to the possibility of targeting autophagy for novel therapies. Meanwhile, the experiences in the three labs have made notable impact on myself as well. I have been exposed to highly multidisciplinary research subjects, where I have been trained to work with people from various backgrounds and grasp rapidly a new topic. Moreover I have been exposed to multicultural environment, where I have learnt to be open and be adaptable, and where I have learnt to speak English, Spanish and French fluently. I sincerely thank the three Transautophagy labs and autophagy research, which have helped me grow and made me closer to realizing my childhood dream.

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