MSc PharmSci Student Tiana Young

What is your academic background and why is your current area of research important?

I completed my Honours Bachelor of Science here at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, in the Pharmaceutical Chemistry Specialist program along with a minor in Immunology. During my undergraduate degree, I had the opportunity to explore both immunological and biomedical engineering research, which led me to develop an interest in nanomedicine and nanomaterials in improving drug delivery systems as well as the drugs that they carry.

Access to safer, more effective therapeutic solutions is key to advancing the overall landscape of healthcare. Ensuring that a drug can be efficiently delivered to a target site, while also ensuring that the drug itself can successfully produce the intended effect are two important areas for optimization. Through my research, I hope to leverage nanotechnology to explore the development of safer delivery systems and medicines.

What led you to your current Supervisor’s research group?

I am very proud to be part of Dr. Bowen Li’s laboratory where I am working on the delivery of next-generation gene editing technologies using optimized lipid nanoparticle formulations. Dr. Li’s research is at the cross-section of molecular genetics and biomedical engineering, focusing on the application and clinical translation of RNA-based therapeutics. I wanted to join a lab where I could not only work on developing new therapeutic solutions but also work on their implementation and feasibility for clinical use. I am grateful that I have the opportunity to be in a lab where I can readily put my findings into practice.

What are some of the challenges you had to overcome while pursuing your research?

Research doesn’t always go as planned and overcoming the various unforeseen problems that arise when planning and executing experiments has been my greatest challenge. But it also allows me to improve my troubleshooting and critical thinking skills by forcing me to rethink my approach or experiment design. Having to learn new concepts and skills in molecular genetics, a field in which I had no prior experience, has also been a challenging, yet highly rewarding learning experience.

How do you see your current research playing a role in your career?

My current research on gene editing, drug delivery, and translational medicine has ultimately equipped me with an in-depth understanding of RNA-based drug development, drug vehicle formulations, and clinical applications, which I believe gives me a strong set of soft and hard skills that will be useful in my future career path in research. Through my time in the lab, I have honed many important skills, such as critical thinking, experimental design, data analysis, scientific communication, and many biomedical science-specific skills that are widely applicable in across many careers in pharmaceutical research.

What do you like to do when you are not working on research?

Outside of the lab, I enjoy working with my hands, whether it’s building keyboards or making costumes, I like to keep myself busy with hands-on projects. I attend car shows and keep up with MotoGP when I can as well. Most of all, I love to hit the gym and lift after work to maintain good health and strength. Healthy body, healthy mind.

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