Who are you, what is your background and how did you get involved in MDR?
My name is Ke. I come from Anhui province, the center of China. I obtained my Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Pharmaceutics from Liaoning University in China. During my studies, I obtained pieces of training in medicinal chemistry, pharmacology, pharmaceutical analysis, and formulations for drug delivery. Especially, my master’s thesis specializes in designing novel drug delivery systems such as intelligent biocompatible materials as a pro-drug for anti-tumor drug delivery, responding to a specific tumor microenvironment. Then as a formulation scientist, I moved to Shanghai in 2019, where I generate experience with wet granulation and tablet production, enteric coating for proton pump inhibitors, and participate in related clinical trials. Due to my great interest in biologics formulations, which include therapeutic proteins, vaccines, and cells, I realize it can be very promising for many diseases by combining cell functions and drug/materials delivery. Therefore, I joined MERLN Institute, Maastricht University as a PhD student in September 2020 and started my journey of understanding materials-driven stem cell behavior and in situ bone regeneration, and this opportunity is funded by and incorporated in the MDR research center.
Tell us a little bit more about the research you are planning to do within MDR.
MDR consortium focus on developing novel and intelligent materials that stimulate the regeneration of damaged or diseased tissues and mimic the complexity of natural tissues in a hierarchical and precise way. In my study, to replicate the natural bone structure and understand its regeneration, we suggest utilizing stiff materials at the micro-scale as an extracellular matrix to construct stem cell-materials micro assemblies at first, and then reconstruct a hierarchical bone-mimicking organization using these microtissues modules. By manipulating the combination, shape, topographies, and other physicochemical properties of micromaterials, as well as incorporating different (bio) chemical cues in them, we are able to answer some scientific questions about the mechanism behind stem cell behavior and contribute to bone regeneration. These scientific questions are updated every moment in MDR by our talents and I am happy to contribute a little bit.
Who is your biggest example in science and why?
To be honest, I do not have the very biggest example in my life. If say who inspires me a lot in science maybe Alexander Fleming, the founder of penicillin. The reason is Alexander Fleming forgot to clean the petri dish before going on holiday and was surprised to find some areas of the petri dish without bacterial growth when he back to the laboratory. That is the story of how he discovered penicillin. I am dreaming of this kind of surprise after my holiday.
Penicillin saves many lives during World War 2, and nowadays it continues contributing to anti-bacterial medication. Success in penicillin discovery not only depends on luck and chance but mostly on big curiosity and a continuous knowledge pool. This story encourages me to pay attention to the phenomena occurring in the experiment and keep curious, focused, and enthusiastic about those unexplained occurrences.
What do you do in your free time and how can we recognize the typical Ke?
Some might say that I am a workaholic because you can always find me in the lab, but I also understand the importance of enjoying leisure time. During my free time, I would like to explore and try to make some new cuisines, most of which are in Chinese. The first time trying mostly ends in failure, which is quite similar to doing experiments, but after many try out, now I am a master of certain cuisines at least. You can truly be relaxed when you re-create things, for example, drawing, cooking, reshaping your body, and hiking. Sleeping is also a good way because your brain is reorganized during sleeping. Sometimes I like to write a novel, describe some characters with chivalrous conduct, and design unexpected storylines. I hope one day I can finish my novels and translate them into different languages. Maybe one day you can find my book and recognize me in this way😊