Jingying Wang knew that UB’s pharmacology and toxicology faculty had strong ties within the research community.
That was apparent from their collaborations with prominent scientists and the distinguished speakers they drew to the department’s seminar series.
Yet she didn’t appreciate the depth of their influence until her own graduate advisor recommended her for a postdoctoral research fellowship at Harvard Medical School.
“I thought that I would go on to a postdoc after I graduated from UB,” Wang says, “but I never thought I would go to Harvard.”
While the Harvard fellowship represents the ultimate reward for Wang’s hard work and commitment to research, it also demonstrates one of the many ways that pharmacology and toxicology faculty champion their students’ success.
“The P.I.s in the department use every single opportunity they have to help your career,” says Wang.
“They always want you to present your research, submit abstracts and get recognized by the national associations.”
Wang’s graduate advisor, Ji Li, exemplifies the faculty’s commitment to students.
In addition to recommending Wang for the Harvard postdoc, he encouraged her to apply for a predoctoral fellowship from the American Heart Association, a prestigious award that only 15 percent of applicants receive.
Wang doubted that she could join such an elite group, but Li’s confidence in her never wavered.
“Throughout my graduate studies, Dr. Li always tried to build up my career,” says Wang. “Even when I wasn’t sure if I had the ability or confidence to become a P.I., he always encouraged me to do that.”
At Harvard, where Wang researches the development of congenital heart disease in newborns, she has taken a major step closer to that goal.
“This is an exciting period because, as a postdoc, you work for yourself, you publish more papers and you build up a network of contacts with other researchers in your field,” she says.
UB’s Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology prepared her for all of these challenges, Wang adds.
In her two years at UB—she transferred from the University of Wyoming—Wang presented research in various settings, from small gatherings with collaborators to departmentwide seminars to national meetings of the American Diabetes Association.
During the department’s seminar series, she learned of the latest advances in pharmacology and toxicology research and met top research scientists.
In Li’s lab, she coauthored articles in major journals and even developed a new technique for measuring fatty acid and glucose metabolism in the heart.
“Being a student in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology was a great experience for me,” Wang says.
“The curriculum is strong, the department is organized and Dr. Li was a devoted mentor.”