Dr Yonghong Zhang was a DPhil Student in Oxford, under the supervision of Prof Tao Dong and Prof Sarah Rowland-Jones. After completing his DPhil, he moved to China where he is currently Vice-director of the Scientific Research Department and Director of the Research Center for Biomedical Resources at Beijing You’an Hospital.
The Nuffield Department of Medicine engages with many countries around the world in a variety of ways, including: NDM’s academics co-authoring papers with collaborators across the world; conducting research projects overseas; collaborative research centres and laboratories; a subsidiary company office in Beijing; and the department’s own Tropical Medicine units in Kenya and Southeast Asia.
Q: Why did you choose to come to Oxford to do a DPhil?
YH: Because ten years ago I was a physician working in Beijing You’An Hospital which is the number one hospital specialising in infectious diseases in China, so I had time to think about, and feel interested about, the interaction between HIV and immunology. As we all know, Oxford University is the best in this field, so that’s the first reason why I selected Oxford University to study. Secondly, in 2003 during the epidemic of SARS, Prof Tao Dong and Dr XiaonNing Xu travelled to China and we got a great chance to communicate together. They’ve given me a lot of help in how to organise my thinking and how to apply to study in Oxford. So finally I realised my dream, and I came to Oxford to be a student of DPhil.
Q: What have you taken away from your experience of working here?
YH: So many things! In Oxford I’ve learnt a lot. From basic knowledge in immunology to performing scientific research, troubleshooting, organise thinking, so many things. Also I was able to set up a very unique cohort in China during my study, in collaboration with Prof Tao Dong, which is unique because this is a commercial HIV donation cohort in China. The patients were infected with HIV at a very similar time, around 1995. Also the virus is similar: it’s the same sub-type. So it’s a really great model to perform scientific research in the co-operation between HIV mutation and CTL pressure. So I think my study in Oxford not only helped me build up my ability in scientific research but also helped me build up the basis of my career.
Q: Can you tell us about your contacts and collaborations with NDM?
YH: Since I graduated I moved back to China. President Li Ning wanted to set up a translational and clinical research platform and I was selected to be the Director of Research Centre for Biomedical Resources. Since then we set up the biggest biobank focusing on infectious disease in China and we began to set up the collaboration with the University of Oxford, for example we continue to collaborate with my supervisor Tao Dong in HIV and TB co-infection I also collaborate with my supervisor Professor Sarah Rowland-Jones in HIV infection and with Professor Andrew McMichael in emerging infectious disease, for example flu H1N1. We also collaborate with David Worrall and Chris Conlon in the training course. Since I graduated there are so many collaborations and contacts with Oxford we set up together.