Joy Walfram, Science Is Her Hobby

  • Xu Wenjia
  • Published: 2017-04-10
  • 125

“Ten To Watch” is funded by Amgen, one of the world’s leading biotechnology compa-nies. This list highlights the best and brightest up-and-comers in science and medicine. The list of alumni includes a Ph.D. graduate from Stanford and MIT and numerous pub-lished scientists, as well as a Ph.D. graduate from University of Chinese Academy of Sci-ences (UCAS), Joy Walfram.

I have no hobby but science
Joy got her Ph.D. degree from UCAS in 2016. She is working on drug delivery systems that directly target cancers. Her involvement in collaborative research between America, Chi-na, and European countries has led her to publish more than 30 scientific papers and re-ceive over 20 academic awards. In 2017, she became a faculty member at the Mayo Clinic, the first and largest integrated medical practice in the world.

It is hard to imagine that a girl in her twenties never uses Facebook or WeChat, but Joy doesn’t. She is addicted to an enjoyable game she calls “science”, and feels content eve-ryday.

When asked if doing research is her dream career, Joy answered: “Absolutely! Scientific breakthroughs have two components: crazy ideas and people with the courage to pursue them. I have no hobby but science.”

Except for eating and sleeping, Joy spends all her time doing research. She doesn’t set aside a specific time for entertainment. “For most people, doing experiment is like work-ing. As for me, it is playing games. Doing experiment, writing paper, reading papers, and attending academic conferences make my life richly colorful.”

A Curious Finnish Girl
Joy has studied in Finland, Canada, Sweden, America, and China. She has published more than 30 scientific papers and, at only 28 years old, runs her own lab. Joy says that she is very lucky to have achieved so much. Apparently, her experience cannot only be attribut-ed to luck.

Joy was born in Finland, and she grew up in a happy family. Her father is a businessman, her mother is an artist. Her brother and sister chose to study business after graduating from high school. Joy, on the other hand, became the kind of girl who chose to explore the smysteries of the human body. When she was a little girl, Joy was always curious about everything, and wanted to figure out what how things worked. When she was growing up, some people she knew died because of cancer, which made her sad. From then on, she de-cided to do something about cancer.

“Cancer patients are the inspiration behind my research. Patients that have exhausted all their options frequently reach out to us in the hopes of finding a cure.” Joy said, “Alt-hough clinical translation is an arduous process, the prospect of potentially providing new treatments for cancer fuels my work and highlights the importance and urgency of our mission. Besides, it is interesting to understand how body works.”

This is the reason why she chose science in the first place: she can not only help people, but science is also fabulous.

Her work involves approaching cancer treatment from a multidisciplinary perspective. One of the key themes in her research is using physics to understand cancer. She has de-veloped drug delivery systems that can navigate through the body. For drugs to reach can-cer cells, she needs to address multiple obstacles including biological components (e.g. the blood vessel wall and cell membrane) and physics-based phenomena, such as fluid dy-namics, pressure gradients and microenvironmental stiffness. Her vision is to impact the future of cancer treatment by developing strategies to overcome these obstacles.

Joy with her parents

Beijing is like my hometown
Joy came to Beijing six years ago, and she found that Chinese culture has so many similar-ities with Finnish culture. “Finns are restrained and hardworking, and that is similar with Chinese.”

“I like the feeling when walking on the street in Beijing. It’s comfortable. Chinese food like hot pot also makes me obsessed.” Joy also likes to take taxis to communicate with the drivers. Those passionate drivers are the best partners to practice Chinese with.

Joy misses her life in NCNST:“Currently, China is one of the leading countries in nano-technology. Hence, it is a very exciting time to be in China!” The NCNST is one of three national centers for nanotechnology. The center was co-founded by the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The NCNST puts great emphasis on international collaboration. The center organizes weekly seminars given by renowned scientists from around the world. These seminars present a great opportunity for networking and establishing international con-tacts and collaborative research projects.

The international communication also provides Chinese students a broader vision. Tianjia Ji, one of Joy’s best friends at NCNST, graduated from UCAS last year, and became a re-search fellow at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Tianjiao has published more than 20 papers and is the recipient of over 10 academic awards. He is also addicted to doing scientific research. “Generally, scientific discovery depends on our own efforts and persistence. Sometimes, scientific communication can provide new ideas. Joy is very brave and smart. She was always the first one to communi-cate with the professors in an academic conference. The rest of the classmates would hesi-tate in fear of making mistakes. However, we should be active, because young people tend to provide novel ideas while older scholars are best at giving advice.

Like Joy, this young man has engaged in a new journey in America. They are both the ben-eficiaries of scientific communication, and they will make new achievements.

When Joy is asked if she wants to be a scientist for her whole life, she affirms without hes-itation: “Sure, science is my favorite hobby.”

At UCAS, as well as many other places in the world, there are thousands of young people like Joy. They cherish their dreams for science and make efforts to create a better world.

Note: As of 2016, there are 1321 foreign students in UCAS, including 873 Ph.D. students. They come from 89 different countries. After graduation, most of them will stay in China or go back to their home countries. Their scientific dreams blossom all over the world.

Edited by: Sun Yiming and Raymond