a scientist works in a lab

Fenyong Liu is a professor in UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health. His thesis analysis led to the invention of the herpes simplex virus protease. Now, he’s engaged on human herpesvirus 5: cytomegalovirus, determining how to deal with and stop virus an infection. (Photo courtesy of Fenyong Liu)

“I used to be born in a metropolis referred to as Canton. Nowadays, it has one other identify: Guangzhou. It’s a metropolis within the south of China close to the shoreline, close to Hong Kong. I used to be born two years earlier than the Chinese Cultural Revolution of 1966.

When I used to be rising up, I had a really glad and free childhood. I began faculty after I was 7. In faculty, I discovered Chinese literature and arithmetic. Even although there was no educational strain, my father made certain that I studied laborious each day.

My father was born within the Nineteen Thirties in northern China. When the Japanese invaded and occupied China from 1937 to 1945, my father was moved from one place to one other together with his dad and mom. He didn’t even end elementary faculty as a result of World War II went so lengthy. So, as a result of of that, he actually needed his kids to have the most effective academic alternatives.

My father by no means let me do something aside from research. He mentioned, ‘I will cook and clean. You have to study.’ So, that actually motivated me. My mom was a college instructor, so she taught me math. They at all times thought that having a ability and making a contribution to society was an important factor.

I nonetheless bear in mind when Mao Zedong died in 1976. I used to be 12 years outdated. The entire nation went into mourning. Then, Deng Xiaoping grew to become the Chinese chief and opened China to the world. I used to be uncovered to scientific journals and magazines from the West. In faculty, we started to find out about scientists, like Albert Einstein and Marie Curie, in addition to Chinese American scientists who had received Nobel Prizes. I discovered a lot inspiration in studying in regards to the historical past of trendy science — the invention of the genetic code. It was a tremendously thrilling time as a result of there was a complete new world on the market.

portrait of Fenyong Liu

Liu, who first got here to Berkeley in 1995, is now working to determine out how to deal with and stop human herpesvirus 5: cytomegalovirus. (UC Berkeley photograph)

In 1981, I took the nationwide school entrance examination. It was a dayslong examination — seven subjects inside one week: Chinese literature, math, biology, chemistry, physics, English and political science. Every highschool pupil, in the event that they needed to go to school, had to do nicely on all seven subjects.

I went to the University of Science and Technology of China. I spent the primary two years within the Department of Modern Physics and then three years within the Department of Biology, finishing my undergraduate research in 1986. My time in school was one of my happiest moments. This was the time that I used to be uncovered to the entire educational world, and I used to be hungry for data and loved studying many books from varied disciplines and fields. During that point, I found my lifetime educational curiosity and topic: biology. I bought to know many of my lifetime mates. Finally, I discovered my lifetime associate, my spouse, in school.

After school, I made a decision that I needed to go to graduate faculty within the U.S. There had been solely two testing websites in China — one in Beijing and one in Shanghai — and the registration price was solely about $20, however that was an amazing quantity for my household. Luckily, I bought a full scholarship to come to the U.S. I attended Chicago Medical School for one 12 months, then enrolled in a Ph.D. program within the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology on the University of Chicago.

I’ve had quite a bit of struggles, and have overcome many obstacles, and I imagine that I’m the place I’m at present as a result of of all of the love and support I’ve been given all through my life.

At the time, I used to be very desirous about viruses, like HIV and influenza, as a result of they had been among the many main causes of demise in our society. My Ph.D. mentor, Bernard Roizman, was so supportive. He is understood to be an excellent mentor and a superb scientist and has educated greater than 100 main scientists engaged on the herpes virus.

When I struggled in my coursework and my analysis, Bernard was at all times there to assist. Using his personal story as an immigrant from Europe coming to research as a younger pupil within the U.S., he instructed me that I might make it, similar to him. After initially struggling with out success with a number of tasks, I accomplished my thesis analysis that led to the invention of the herpes simplex virus protease. I’m so grateful to Bernard, as a result of he spent a lot time with me. He had a hands-on fashion — I talked to him each week when he was on the town.

After I accomplished my Ph.D. research in 1992, I grew to become a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University, the place my spouse was a Ph.D. pupil. My postdoctoral mentor, Sidney Altman, is a Nobel laureate specializing in RNA biochemistry. In his lab, I developed new RNA-based strategies and instruments for treating viral ailments. Sid was an important mentor and at all times beneficiant to his trainees. I nonetheless do not forget that, throughout my job looking, Sid learn and corrected my job resumé and private statements, listened to me after I practiced my job talks, shared his grant functions with me, and revised and commented on my first NIH grant utility.

I got here to Berkeley in 1995. As a professor within the School of Public Health within the Division of Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology, I research herpes viruses. So far, there are eight herpes viruses that infect people. I’m engaged on human herpesvirus 5: cytomegalovirus. What I need to do is determine how to deal with and stop virus an infection.

Right now, my colleagues and I even have a number of thrilling tasks associated to the COVID-19 pandemic: In collaboration with the College of Engineering and the non-public sector, we’re on the lookout for new methods to decontaminate private protecting gear utilizing carbon dioxide. In one other mission, we’re working with a compound that has sturdy antiviral properties in opposition to the illness. I feel that when now we have the chance to make a contribution to society instantly, we should always simply try this.

I actually really feel that I’m simply a median particular person. Luckily, my dad and mom’ love and sacrifice motivated me to pursue my dream, and my mentors’ examples as scientists and educators impressed me to develop my scientific profession. I’ve had quite a bit of struggles, and have overcome many obstacles, and I imagine that I’m the place I’m at present as a result of of all of the love and support I’ve been given all through my life.”

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