Recently, Zhao Fangzhu, a graduate of 2013, published a research paper in Science journal as the co-first author.
Her team isolated a large number of neutralizing antibodies from Coronavirus patients in the United States, and demonstrated in animal experiments that a powerful neutralizing antibody could help mice resist the infection of Coronavirus. This study shows that coronavirus neutralizing antibody can play a role in disease prevention and has the potential to treat disease.
“Zhao Fangzhu was admitted to the competition class of Shenzhen Middle School in 2010, and chose the chemistry competition. I became the head coach of Zhao Fangzhu, and spent a quite unique three years with her and about ten other students. Due to chemical competition mainly focuses on university chemistry, including the university general chemistry, inorganic chemistry, analytical chemistry, structure chemistry, organic chemistry and related chemical experiment, the students will have to finish high school chemistry within half a year, and then spent a year to study three years’ college chemistry content, then use half a year to do a lot of exercise training. This new way of learning is a great challenge for anyone who wants to participate in the chemistry competition. As Zhao Fangzhu did not have any preparation in this aspect in junior high school, it requires her more courage and patience. This learning path exercises the students’ ability to learn a lot of new knowledge in a short time, which helps them to get familiarized with academic research more leisurely after entering the university.
Different from most competitive students, Zhao Fangzhu participated in plenty of school clubs and became an active member of the senior students' league while studying so intensively in the chemistry competition. It takes more time to actively communicate with seniors and help juniors, which is bound to disperse the energy and time invested in the competition. What is rare is that Zhao Fangzhu can manage both quite well. I suppose that is why she could complete her high school and university studies with high quality.
Being able to do many things at the same time and doing them all very well is the deepest impression that Zhao Fangzhu has left on me.”
--Chemistry Competition Coach Yang Ping
It was night on the West Coast of the United States. During the day, I went to the lab to carry bricks, wore a mask, and tried to keep a social distance with people in the same group. At the same time, I was doing the research about the COVID-19, which is world-renowned but also super competitive. Since march of this year, I can't remember the consecutive days of constant and intense working. My life in these months was nothing more than working and sleep.
The influence of SMS on me
I could not believe that I had the honor to write an article as an alumnus of SMS, because I was not the best student when I was in high school. During my three years in the school, I have developed my independent learning ability and optimistic attitude, including entering the seven-day chemistry competition, and adapting to the high intensity and fast pace of learning mode. In the first year of high school, we learned many math, physics and chemistry courses that should be learned in higher grades, because in the second year of high school, we needed to spend most of our energy on the subject competition. In the third year, we need to prepare for the college entrance examination. We need self-discipline, self-awareness, and mutual guidance among students.
The classmates around me are the biggest motivation for me to make progress. When I was first admitted to and went to school, I thought my English was good, but I found that many classmates often uttered words that I had never heard before. When I failed math and physics, there are always classmates can get more than 90 points or even 100 points. Some classmates won international gold MEDALS, some won national competitions, and some got offers from Ivy League schools. Even among the seven Chinese students who have attended Scripps Institute in 2017, I meet other alumnus SMS. In SMS, I am used to being surrounded by people who are better than me. I am proud of their excellence and are also trying my best to become excellent. Now they are all shining in their respective fields, just like me.
I smile when I think of my colorful high school life, which was full of diversified teaching and rich activities. This year is my 10th year as a SMS student, but even after many years of graduation, the motto of SMS has been engraved in my heart, and I have always been proud of being a SMSer.
Thanks to SMS, I have gained a wonderful friendship for ten years. When I was a student in Zhejiang University, even though I and my best friend in high school had classes in different departments, we would ride bikes to the canteen to have dinner together after class. During the summer and winter vacations, I would go back to visit my teachers and get reunited with my classmates. When I was studying in the United States, I would go on a road trip together with SMS students during the holidays.
My road to scientific research
In 2013, I was recommended to the study the biomedical science in Zhejiang University. The training in high school made me adapt to the college life quickly. When I was in university, my major provided me with many opportunities for scientific research exchange program overseas. Gradually, I developed a special in the field of immunology.
After entering TSRI in 2017, I began to study the AIDS vaccine and the isolation of HIV neutralizing antibodies. During the two years of scientific research training, I built a platform for the separation of high-throughput monoclonal antibodies, which can be skillfully used in the separation of antibodies against HIV and other infectious diseases. It is also in these two years that I truly fall in love and begin to enjoy scientific research.
There are three reasons:
One is that to apply the theoretical knowledge I learned to research subjects (such as the Coronavirus) could give me a great sense of accomplishment;
Second, it is a happy thing to work with a group of smart and lovely scientists. Even though I was the youngest graduate student in the lab, I was equally respected and appreciated;
Third, by doing the translational research, I got the opportunity to work from laboratory to clinics (bench to bedside).
In March this year, as the outbreak of the pandemic in the United States, our laboratory quickly entered the COVID-19 research. In the two months when most of the staff in the institute were isolated at home, we were still working in the front line every day, doing essential research, and making rapid research progress. In a short period of time, we completed the screening of 1800 monoclonal antibodies, isolated a strong neutralizing antibody, and verified its protective effect through animal experiments.
Message to Juniors
I hope you can enjoy your current study and life, and feel the unique culture in SMS. After you graduate, you will truly realize how valuable all those three years are.