Editorial Article: ‘Effective communication enables you to stand on other people's shoulders and see much further'

Gang Chen, lab manager at Simon Fraser University, reveals his contribution to tackling the pandemic and how communication is vital in science

29 Apr 2021

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Gang Chen, lab manager, Simon Fraser University

Gang Chen, lab manager for Dr. Robert Young's research lab at Simon Fraser University

Lab product reviews can change the world by helping other scientists find the best equipment to accelerate their vital work. Here at SelectScience®, we are dedicated to promoting peer-to-peer communication that will make the difference – but we couldn’t do it without our esteemed reviewers. In this regular new feature, we put the spotlight on some of our most dedicated and impactful reviewers and find out what inspires them to keep sharing their knowledge with the global scientific community. 

This week’s ‘Reviewer in the Spotlight’ is Gang Chen, lab manager for Dr. Robert Young’s research lab at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada. With a keen interest in the world of science since childhood, Gang tells us about his ongoing drug discovery programs and explains how communicating with fellow scientists allows you to keep up with scientific progress. 

Tell me about your role and your current research

We have several new drug discovery programs ongoing. The first one is a bone-targeting prodrug that can enhance bone growth. This class of drugs can be used in the treatment of osteoporosis and many other conditions. The second is an autophagy inhibitor, which is for supportive cancer treatment. A third one is for COVID-19: current vaccines can reduce the chance of contracting COVID-19, but for those who unfortunately got it, there is currently no effective treatment. We are collaborating with a few agencies in Vancouver to develop an effective treatment for this devastating disease.

The COVID-19 virus relies on a unique protease enzyme to function, and this enzyme is conserved across many mutants. This enzyme is a dimer, and the two subunits need to assemble in a precise way to be functional. What we are trying to do is to target the dimer interface such that the two subunits cannot mate normally, resulting in a non-functional enzyme, thus disrupting the normal function and proliferation of the virus.

What inspired you to get into the world of science?

I have been interested in science since my childhood. A high school chemistry national competition training camp played a big role in steering my career path to chemistry.

Gang Chen, Simon Fraser University

Gang is working on several new drug discovery programs, including a bone-targeting prodrug that can enhance bone growth

Why is communication vital in science?

The amount of knowledge, experience, tricks, and know-how are vast in any scientific field. It is simply impossible for a researcher to figure out everything all on their own. By effectively communicating with others, you essentially stand on other people's shoulders and will be able to see much further ahead.

Why do you think lab equipment reviews are important?

All equipment manufacturers proudly claim they have the best product, and they will suit your needs. However, real-life experience could be quite different. A piece of equipment may have an advantage in one aspect but falls short in another. By reading customer reviews you can have a much better sense of the real-life experience and make an educated selection in your purchase. By writing customer reviews, it not only helps others in making their selection, but also helps the manufacturers improve their product. 

SelectScience reviews enable us to ‘test drive’ a piece of equipment before buying, which saves us both money and time, none of which we have enough.

What’s your favorite piece of lab equipment? 

The Agilent 1100 HPLC. It is quite an old piece of instrument now, but it is still the workhorse in the lab.  With a few simple modifications, you can get UHPLC-like performance from this old soldier. The hardware is rock solid and reasonably easy to maintain and service. A lot of the parts are generic and easily available from third parties, which makes the running cost low.

Review Gang Chen Chromolith

What would you like to achieve in your work? 

I hope one day new drugs will come out of our research work and alleviate the pain of patients.

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