Visiting PhD student from China receives AHA fellowship

A visiting student from China earning her PhD at UMMS has garnered an award from the American Heart Association (AHA) to support her research.

Hiulun Wang and her UMMS mentor, Dr. Eugene Chen, in the lab.

Huilun Wang, from Peking University Health Science Center (PKUHSC), a prominent UMMS partner institution in Beijing, is the recipient of a 2020 AHA Predoctoral Fellowship. Wang is among a handful of MD students from PKUHSC who are spending an extended period at UMMS to earn a PhD, a program that was started in 2014 with backing of U-M alum and philanthropist Richard Rogel, a longtime supporter of Michigan Medicine’s partnerships in China.

Since her arrival to Ann Arbor in 2016, she has been a member of Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine Eugene Chen’s lab, where her research is focused on learning more about the genetic contributors of abdominal aortic aneurism.

“I’m very grateful to receive the support and eager to continue my training here in Ann Arbor,” Wang said. “I think the AHA fellowship elevates our project as a significant project.”

Wang is the third student from PKUHSC student in Chen’s lab to receive the award. Haocheng Lu received AHA predoctoral fellowship in 2016 and Wenying Liang did so in 2018. In each case, the support subsidizes their continued research in the final portion of their PhD program.

“These AHA awards are highly competitive and having three PKUHSC students in speaks to the quality of these students and this exchange program,” said Chen, MD, PhD. “These are outstanding students and we are privileged to host them as part of our learning community.”

The PKUHSC students typically take a five-year break near the end of their MD training in China to earn their PhD through UMMS before returning to finish their clinical training.

“There is not only the training in the lab, but also the courses in grant writing, experiment design, research ethics and more. We are basically learning how to think as a scientist, training will help me a lot for my future career,” Wang said. “I have always wanted to combine clinical work with research. For me, they cannot be separated.”