Dialogue@ZJU: With Dr. CHEN Di from the International Campus

2021-10-05 Global Communications

【Message from the editor: In the previous issue, Dr. SHAO Fangwei, associate professor from ZJUI, shared her research and teaching at the International Campus. Today, let’s meet Dr. CHEN Di, assistant professor from the Zhejiang University-University of Edinburgh Institute (ZJE). Di completed his PhD degree in Chinese Academy of Sciences. Then he continued as a postdoctoral researcher at University of California, Los Angeles, focusing on the differentiation of human embryonic stem cells. His lab focuses on the regulatory mechanisms of the differentiation potentials of human embryonic stem cells and/or induced pluripotent stem cells, especially the function of transcription factors, epigenetic regulators and RNA-binding proteins.】 

“Desolate flute sound lingers amid spring drizzles. When can I return to view the Qiantang tides?”. I like this line of one poem very much. I never thought that I would join the International Campus, ZJU, one day. For me, it is not only going back to Zhejiang Province, viewing the tide of Qiantang bore and the tide of progress, but also being part of it and contributing to it.

Back in 2017, a long talk with one of my friends changed my mind in terms of my job choices. At that time, I had been working as a postdoc for three years, and had started to prepare for job applications. I planned to spend two years finding a dream job. I had established a good relationship with a university in the United States, and had interviews there twice. Though the outcome was pretty good, I still felt there was something missing. It didn’t meet all my expectations for a future job, and after thinking for a long time, I realized that what was missing was the prospect of career development. While I was hesitating, I talked with my friend, mainly about the scientific research environment and development prospects in the United States and China. I found that during my years abroad I seemed to have missed the domestic development trend. With the strong recommendation and encouragement of my friend, I took the opportunity of returning home to visit Zhejiang University. Although I didn’t visit the International Campus in Haining, I learned about the international environment here and the blueprint for the Zhejiang University-University of Edinburgh Institute (ZJE), and also about the rising trend of scientific research in China. After considering for some time, I finally, with the full support of my family, decided to join ZJE as an assistant professor.

The three most important factors that attracted me at that time were: the international environment, the blueprint for the Campus’ development, and the fact that my friend who I mentioned before, Dr. LIU Wanlu, had joined ZJE. Although we were in different laboratories when we were in the United States, we collaborated and co-published many research papers. On the basis of this virtuous circle of cooperation and mutual encouragement, we explored the possibility of establishing our laboratories in Haining together, moving forward with the tide of progress in Zhejiang. Finally, I joined the International Campus in September 2019 and established my lab. I was deeply impressed when I first came to the Campus. The staff members helped me solve various problems in the recruitment procedure patiently and were very positive. I planned the lab establishment with my friends, and talked about the research fields with new colleagues.

This was how my scientific research career started, in this city I have come to love. The quiet and peaceful Campus with its old European-style architecture, the smiling passersby, and the breezy lakeside all together make ideal environments for coming up with research ideas. Also, on this Campus, what impresses me most is cooperation and sharing. Here, there is not only transnational cooperation, such as ZJE (the cooperation between ZJU and UoE), but also the cooperation between the institutes and the hospitals, between the institutes themselves, and also the interdisciplinary cooperation that our Campus encourages and promotes. With this background of cooperation, we learn from each other’s strengths, open up our minds, and think about questions in our research field from a new perspective. On the Campus, we talk about scientific research and share ideas frequently. We have not only our own laboratory meetings, but also the joint meetings of cooperative laboratories, the biweekly joint meetings of the stem cell laboratories in the college, the monthly group meetings with cooperative hospitals, the SPARK meeting with ZJUI members every month, and various seminars, etc. These meetings and seminars gather all IC members together to discuss, share, and improve. 

A few years ago, with the “trend for going abroad”, I went to the United States and learned a lot of new scientific thinking and experimental skills. In 2019, I came back following the “trend for returning” and started my career in Haining. During this trend, I have seen the growth of our labs, our Institute and our Campus. My research direction is stem cells. I hope that the research work in our laboratory can become one of the waves of the tide of progress in Zhejiang Province and be as vibrant as stem cells.

For more stories about the faculty members at the International Campus, please click here.

Source: International Campus, Zhejiang University