Cambridge Chemistry: The Right Mix

University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK

BBiotech (Drug Design & Development) 2006

Vivian Chan has embraced the chance to undertake research at one of the world’s most historic universities.

From her Bachelor of Biotechnology foundations at UQ, Vivian has attained a PhD scholarship position at the picturesque 800-year old Cambridge University, north of London.

With notable Cambridge alumni including Charles Darwin and Isaac Newton, there is no denying Vivian is rubbing shoulders with science’s “crème de la crème”.

Currently, her research is focusing on the biochemical and structural properties of the enzyme RNase E in Escherichia coli (E. coli) – a bacterium commonly found in the lower intestine of warm-blooded animals – and Mycobacterium tuberculosis – the bacteria that causes most cases of tuberculosis.

To do this, she uses protein x-ray crystallography, which enables scientists to examine and potentially design pharmaceuticals to fight such diseases.

Vivian says the fact that her work could bear significance in drug design is what she is enjoying most about her research – in addition to the college life offered at what she describes as “one of the most beautiful and historic universities”.

After finishing her Biotechnology degree at the University of Queensland, Vivian took the opportunity to work in the commercialisation and investment side of science, also at UQ, as Uniseed’s Investment Process Manager – a position her PhD stemmed from.

She attributes her career pathway to her beginnings at UQ.

“The Biotechnology program was great at UQ,” she says.

“It helped shape my decision to stay in science and pursue more research abroad.

“The lecturers and supervisors were outstanding – not only academically, but also as great mentors.”

Vivian says being exposed to and learning about the diversity and many applications of science, as well as meeting world-class scientists abroad, have been her career highlights thus far.