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Collaboration is not a choice, it’s a must. Every one of us, we know only one part of our study areas. Dr Shunfei Yan
A scholarship Dr Yan received gave him the freedom to focus on scientific research. Under a partnership agreement renewed in 2023, the University of Melbourne and the China Scholarship Council will support up to 180 PhD candidates to conduct their research at the university until 2027.
The student services Dr Yan used most during his time at the university were the libraries to access scientific research, the health centre and the university’s sports facilities.
“You can get healthy, happy and have enough energy to carry out research,” he explains.
A career in translating medical research into the clinic
As a graduate researcher in medicine, Dr Yan could also draw on the facilities and expertise available in the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct. In one location, the precinct brings together more than 40 research, education and industry partners that have been delivering medical care, research and education in Victoria for more than 160 years.
“There is lots of scientific research that will stay in the laboratory forever. It can never be translated into clinic. But my program determined that what you do matters. What you do can save lives,” Dr Yan says.
After graduating, Dr Yan took his passion for translating research and made it into his career. Following several years working in venture capital, he now works as Medical Evaluation Manager for AstraZeneca, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world.
I am responsible for searching for and evaluating external innovation opportunities. These opportunities may include drug combination collaborations with other pharmaceutical companies, academia-industry research collaborations and asset licensing. Dr Shunfei Yan
“Currently I am focusing on oncology but may expand to other disease areas later," Dr Yan says.
The scientific sense he developed during his graduate research degree has been crucial to succeeding in his career. Evaluating scientific literature continues to be a part of his work.
Advice for new graduate researchers
Dr Yan’s advice to new graduate researchers is to make the most of the time you have at one of the world’s best universities. But you should also plan for what you want to do after graduation as early as possible.
“For example, if you want to go into the pharmaceutical industry, then it will be better if you could take part in some projects related to drug development,” he says.
To succeed in a PhD, Dr Yan says you need to know how to ask the right questions.
“If you want to solve a scientific problem, you first need to ask the right question to identify the key points in the whole problem. Then you try to solve that,” he says.
But the most important thing is to have passion for your area of research.
“Follow your heart!”
First published on 11 October 2023.
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