IGB Fellow receives Career Award from Burroughs Wellcome Fund
Bo Wang, IGB Fellow in the Regenerative Biology and Tissue Engineering theme, has received a Career Award at the Scientific Interface by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. Designed to support those seeking to merge their education in engineering, computation or mathematics with an academic career in the biological sciences, the award will provide support for two years of postdoctoral study and three years of independent research. Career Awards are granted to only ten applicants a year.
“I am incredibly excited to have received this award,” said Wang. “Being able to transition from a background in physics to a career in biology has been difficult, and this is a big step.”
After receiving his PhD in Material Sciences at the University of Illinois in 2011, Wang joined the IGB as a Fellow in August of that same year. His research focuses on using statistical imaging on the single molecule/particle level, combining millions of images to further phenotyping and understanding functional genomics.
Wang has applied this technique to Planaria, a common flatworm used to model the properties of its parasitic relative Schistosoma, in his postdoctoral work with Phillip Newmark which the award will help support.
Schistosoma, also known as blood flukes, are a genus of parasitic worms that cause the disease schistosomiasis in humans. They infect millions of people every year—after malaria, schistosomes are the most prevalent and socioeconomically devastating parasite in the world. Because of their complicated and multifarious life cycle, they have been historically difficult to study.
“To understand a worm like this, which has such developmental variability, you really need a lot of information on a physical level,” Wang explained. “This is why deep imaging is so important.”
Though he will transition from post-doctorate to independent researcher, Wang hopes to continue working with Planaria in an attempt to further understanding of developmental plasticity. “Unlike really anything else, Planaria have an ability to adapt. They’re filled with stem cells. If you cut one into 100 pieces, they would just turn into a hundred worms.”
“I took a long path to work in biology, but this Career Award will really help—both financially, and building a career.”
Founded in 1955, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund is a private foundation dedicated to promoting education and research in the biomedical sciences. Prior to 1994, BWF was the corporate foundation of the Burroughs Wellcome Co., now GlaxoSmithKline, and was the first pharmaceutical company to establish research laboratories.