07 August 2019
5 mins with...Min Zhang
Dr Min Zhang has been a Lecturer of Cardiovascular Biology since 2016. He is the co-chair of the International Postdoc/PhD students Forum of the School, and organiser of the Cardiac Haemodynamics Workshop for BHF MRes and BMSR MRes.
Briefly, tell me about your background and career up to this point
I was born in a rural countryside of central China, graduated from Xinxiang Medical University, and obtained my MD and PhD from Peking University Health Science Centre. With a passion in science, in 2002 I gave up medical practice and moved to London. I completed postdoctoral research training at Professor Ajay Shah's laboratory, followed by a BHF Specialist Fellow at King’s in 2011. I was appointed as Lecturer in Cardiovascular Biology in 2016.
What research are you currently working on?
My research mainly focuses on elucidating the roles of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the process of diverse cardiovascular diseases, particularly the contributions of NADPH oxidases (NOX) isoforms Nox2 and Nox4 to cardiac hypertrophy, remodeling, heart failure and aortic valve pathologies. I am also interested in ROS-mediated cardiac adaptation to exercise. My studies have employed a wide range of approaches from molecular and cell biology, tissue culture to in vivo pre-clinical models with state-of-the-art technologies such as echo-guided cardiac catheterization.
What is a typical day like for you?
It depends, everyday is different. Literature reading, paper or grant writing, bench works and group meeting make up most of a typical day. In addition, cardiovascular physiology is my favorite area, I spend quite a lot time in BSU as well.
Where is your research area heading in the next five years?
Our previous studies showed that Nox2 and Nox4 have distinctive roles in regulating cardiac function and remodeling. I will continue to investigate the mechanisms underlying these important but different responses.
What would you like members of our School to most know about you and your research area?
We have well established small animal models to achieve cardiac hypertrophy (either physiological or pathological) with or without heart failure (either HFrEF or HFpEF), and cardiac function being assessed by various techniques both ex vivo and in vivo. If you are interested in this, I might be of help and I am very happy to collaborate.
What is your favourite part about your current role?
When students or my colleagues come to seek advice on experimental design and techniques, especially about cardiac physiology, I always like to share my experience including the tips and lessons. Preclinical models are quite challenging for most researchers.
What do you do with your time outside of academia?
I love table tennis, actually I am quite good at it. You know Ping-Pong was invented in the UK, but is most popular in China. Playing table tennis has many benefits, such as improving reflexes and coordination, developing mental acuity and even preventing dementia. So, if you like, please join me and enjoy it.
What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?
Life is unique, since you never have a chance to go back and live in a different way.
My father used to tell me this and I would like to share this with my daughter when she is 18: never complain about what you do not have, believe in yourself and do your best today, tomorrow will be better.
Who do you look up to (inside or outside of academia)?
Sir James Whyte Black, not only for his tremendous achievement in medicine, but also his charming personality. In his last several years at King’s, I was very fortunate to work next to his office at the JBC, and had several brief chats. I remember he once introduced me to a book about the history of medicine in China, and another time he joked that he was not allowed to enter the James Black Centre without a security pass. Quite often, I saw him open the gate for students, what a great scientist and a gentleman!
Any leaving remarks that you would like other members of our school to know about you?
Working together with Dr Qiuping Zhang, we are coordinating the International Postdoc/PhD Students Forum for the School, so please feel welcome to join us!
Favourite Movie: Kongfu Panda, actually this is my daughter’s favourite.
Favourite Book: Fortress Besieged
Favourite TV Show: My daughter has just finished her GCSE's, I hardly remember when the last time the TV was on.
Favourite Scientist: Sir James Black