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Faculty Spotlight - Edwin Wan

Assistant Professor

Dr. Edwin Wan

Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Cell Biology

I was born and raised in Hong Kong, one of the most fascinating cities in the world (in my opinion). When I was a teenager, I loved to play with all kinds of sport, particularly basketball and soccer (I still love sports but now I watch more than play). In Hong Kong, although students take many science classes in school, scientist is never considered as a “career” -- people in general are more interested in the stock and housing markets than science. I did pretty well in biology during high school so I chose and was accepted to the Biology program at City University of Hong Kong, hoping one day I would become a high school teacher (and frankly, there was not many options in my hometown with a degree in Biology). My life changed when I attended Biochemistry class where the Professor (then Ph.D. advisor) spent his last few classes not teaching the classical Krebs cycle and enzyme kinetics but introducing to us about his cancer research, the concept of oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes etc. That was the first time I heard about biomedical research and I still remember how fascinated I was. I approached him at the end of the semester asking an opportunity to work in his lab during summer, and that was how my research career began. I immediately realized that there is no turning back.

 I continued my graduate studies in the same lab and completed my Ph.D. in Cancer Immunology and Pharmacology in 2007. I had strong desire to stay in the academia and also knew that coming to the US would provide me with the best scientific training. I joined Dr. Xiao-Ping Zhong’s lab at Duke University as postdoctoral fellow, where I studied T-cell receptor signaling and its roles in tumorigenesis and autoimmune diseases. The lab at Duke had provided me with excellent training in research but I realized that I needed to develop extra skillsets to prepare myself to become an independent investigator. Therefore, in 2009 I moved from North Carolina to Maryland, and continued my training in Dr. Warren Leonard’s lab at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of NIH. I focused on cytokine signaling and its role in autoimmune and infectious diseases. The lab at NIH not only allowed me to develop my own research projects but also helped me to pave my current research directions here at WVU. I joined the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Cell Biology at WVU in August 2016. I am also a member of the Center for Basic and Translational Stroke Research of BRNI. Currently my lab is focused on cytokine signaling that leads to the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis, which is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system. Our ultimate goal is to identify novel therapeutic targets for treating the disease. My group now has a Ph.D. student (Kelly Monaghan) and a biology technician (Sarah Milne), and we are expecting to have a postdoctoral fellow and an undergraduate student to join us this summer. In addition to my research, I teach Cellular Immunobiology course for both undergraduates and postgraduates.

I have been married for 10 years. My wife Sheran is a molecular biologist and indeed she was the one who taught me DNA cloning (that was my excuse to get to know her). She is now a program analyst in the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of NIH. I have two daughters, Bethany (4) and Meredith (1). I spend most of my time with them whenever I am not in the lab. Watching my daughters grow up (and also people in my lab scientifically) always give me the best satisfaction.

The Wan Lab