Yue Zheng

Favourite Thing: To find out something that NOONE has seen before!!!



High Pavement Sixth Form College, Nottingham 2002-2004


University of Bath, Pharmacology, 2004-2008

Work History:

Roche, California, USA, Research Intern


University of Cambridge

Current Job:

A final year PhD student working on how cell death influences our immune system.

Me and my work

My mission is to transform scientific discoveries from a laboratory to benefit patients in clinics with immune diseases.

  1. I am final year PhD student from Department of Medicine, University of Cambridge.
  2. I started off as a “pharmacologist”—do not be afraid of the word. I was basically looking into how a specific drug works and the dose it should be given to the patient. For example, I studied a drug to treat HIV and see how we could reduce the dose for the patients.
  3. I am now an “immunologist”. Questions I turn to ask myself (and my boss) is why would not my feet go all red and painful when my chiropodist chopped some of my feet skin. In reality, this is not much different from cut myself. Or the cells forming our nose get completely renewed every 3 years, why am I still having the same nose?
  4. The answe is that our body knows that bad stuff need to go away quietly. Right now, I am focusing on to discover how the body distinguish between “good” and “bad” stuff of our own body and how to cleverly get rid of the bad stuff.

My Typical Day

There is no typical day in science—tomorrow is always different from today.

  1. After feeding myself with a coffee, I normally start my day by feeding my cells with fresh “drinks”—a growth medium that is full of nutrients to keep them happy in a dish.
  2. Depending on the data I generated the night before, I would design my experiment of the day in the morning.

Sometimes this involves extract DNA.

Sometimes this involves measuring the speed of two molecules interacting with each other.

Other times I feed my cells with drugs, and see whether the drug I applied could extend the life of the cell.

  1. Plenty chats going on with my friends while we work together, not always about science =)
  2. I work very closely with clinicians. We exchange our ideas—to discuss what is needed in clinics and what we, as scientists can do, to fulfil those needs.
  3. There are always trainings going on to introduce the most advanced technology to help our research—we are all going to a Nobel Prize Winner’s talk next month!!!
  4. The most exciting part of the day is to reveal my results in the evening!!! There are exciting moments that I find out things that no one has seen before.
  5. Although quite often, things did not quite go according to plans—to me, this may not be the happiest moment, but to find out what has gone wrong is very important in science. As the mistakes has helped all of scientists to go on to the correct path.
  6. Social Time followed by a well deserved sleep!!!

What I'd do with the money

Donate to Cambridge Science Festival

Cambridge Science Festival is an annual event to get kids of all age (quite often, the parents are just as keen as their children) to join the scientist crew with LOADS of fun. This is the most direct way of people of any age to really enjoy the beauty of science and to interact with the world leading scientists from all types of backgrounds.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Passionate, determined and conscientious

Would you rather be a scientist or an athlete? And why?

As I am living in the life of a scientist, I would love to be an athlete. Scientists and athletes share a great deal of similarities: we are both driven, passionate about what we do, and push to our limits to achieve our goals. In addition, I would have a great body that people always envy for.

If you could have a body super power, what would it be and why?

Right now, I wish I have the ability to control the rainfall in the UK!!

Which Olympic event would you most like to win? And why?

Iron man!!! A game for the most determined and all-rounded athlete.

What did you want to be after you left school?

I loved to be a teacher, as I adored my teachers at the time.

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

Luckily not…but my parents may tell you otherwise

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

At Cambridge Science Festival this year. A 3-year old girl enjoyed our activities about fatty food and health so much, she gave me the tightest hug, a kiss and told me that she wanted to be a cool scientist!

Tell us a joke.

Question: Why are there 500 different fruit flies in Hawaii? Answer: Because there are 500 different fruits in Hawaii