Tiange (Philip) Zhang
Philip is a second-year medical student at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. He grew up in St. Louis, MO, and attended Washington University in St. Louis, where he majored in biology and minored in East Asian studies. His interests in infectious diseases and global health trace back to his basic science research in a Toxoplasma gondii laboratory, where he studied parasite invasion strategies utilizing molecular cloning and gene expression profiling techniques. He also worked extensively with orphaned children in China through an NGO called Half the Sky Foundation, in which he participated in service trips and implemented enrichment programs designed to meet the children’s developmental needs. While at Stritch, Philip has begun working for a student-run clinic that provides healthcare for the uninsured in Chicago. He also co-founded a mentoring program that pairs medical students to undergraduate students interested in exploring health-related professions. He aims to expand his research to include the public health aspects of infectious disease and to address the needs of vulnerable populations via public health-oriented approaches. In his spare time, Philip enjoys taking road trips, doing digital photography and checking out coffee shops around Chicago.
Project: "Correlates of Syphilis Testing among High-Risk MSM in South China"
June 3, 2016 - July 28, 2016
What does the Kean Fellowship mean to you?
I am very honored and grateful to have been selected for the Kean Fellowship. Given the broad range of topics in the field, I have found crafting a career in tropical medicine to be daunting at times. Being recognized by ASTMH is a powerful form of encouragement that reassures me to continue down my path and see where it leads. It is exciting to be able to complete a project that bridges my interests in a way I have never been able to pursue. The generous support helped me overcome the financial constraints of working at an international site, enabling me to fully immerse myself in a unique setting with rich learning opportunities for tropical medicine. I am convinced that the research lessons and the meaningful partnerships gained from this summer experience will extend into and enrich the next stages of my training.
What do you anticipate learning?
In the short run, this fellowship enables me to gain insights into how public health research can be utilized to better understand and address the needs of vulnerable populations affected by tropical diseases. Completing this project in Guangzhou, China will not only enhance my efforts to further my quantitative research skills, it will expand my knowledge of infectious disease and public health in a region where I have language and cultural proficiency. The setting is unique in that rapid economic and social changes have fueled a resurgence of STIs in China. Guangzhou, specifically, sits at the heart of the Pearl River Delta, a region covering nine major cities with a combined population of more than 57 million people, drawing increasing immigrants from Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia. In the long run, I anticipate the lessons I learned to help me craft a career that blends research and clinical care toward alleviating the burden of infectious diseases on low-resource communities.
What interests you about tropical medicine and what problems are you interested in solving?
My interest traces back to my research in infectious diseases and my service and academic interests in developing parts of Asia. As an undergraduate student, I worked in a Toxoplasma gondii laboratory and investigated this parasite’s elaborate invasion strategies. This experience deepened my appreciation for the intricate biology of infectious diseases, driving me to explore ways I could make a difference in this field. In the classrooms, my East Asian studies minor exposed me to the rapidly changing landscape in Asia, where increasing urbanization, mobility and migrant population magnify the threat of tropical and infectious diseases, especially among those who are least protected. I witnessed this firsthand through coordinating a service trip to a clinic for orphaned children in China and through working for an NGO to implement enrichment programs in underfunded orphanages, where delays in diagnosis and treatment are commonplace. Consequently, I am drawn to tropical medicine for the tremendous opportunity to utilize research and patient care toward alleviating the disproportionate burden of diseases on low-resource communities. Currently, my research explores factors that influence the development and delivery of STI prevention services to key populations in low- and middle- income countries.