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SIT-Summer Institute in Taiwan
Academic Exchange & Cultural Experience in Taiwan
Interview with Dr. Ming Huei Cheng (2011& 2014 SIT Host professor)


“Through the SIT program, Taiwan can be more internationalized on scientific studies.”

“By joining this SIT program, we have an opportunity to learn from the students at the same time, and offer our strength and knowledge to them. My experiences have shown the SIT program to be mutually beneficial. ”

                                      Dr. Ming-Huei Cheng (2011& 2014 SIT Host Advisor)

1. Interview with Dr. Ming-Huei Cheng (2011& 2014 SIT Host Advisor)

(1) Introduction of Dr. Cheng’s Laboratory

My laboratory is focused on tissue engineering with an integrated use of stem cells (adipose stem cells and bone marrow stem cells), biomaterial scaffolds (PEG, PCL-PLLA…etc.) and bioreactors to facilitate the engineering tissues such as bone tissue and cartilage tissue. Our group currently conducts several research projects, such as adult stem cell application of bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells and adipose-derived stem cells for in vitro engineered tissues. Furthermore, we perform regeneration of cartilage tissue, adipose tissue, bone tissue, and we recently developed a cartilage-like tissue to replace the trachea in a rabbit model.

(2) Dr. Cheng’s Motivation for Joining the SIT Program for the Third Time

This is the third time I have collaborated with the SIT program. Actually I met Dr. Eric Brey, currently at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), in 1999 when I was a research fellow at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, USA. At that time, I often discussed science and worked on research projects together with Eric, who was a PhD student from Rice University. In 2000, we collaborated on a project here in Taiwan through a grant from the US NSF and Taiwan SIT collaboration.  Since then, we have continued our scientific collaboration. Through these years, we have worked on many projects with help from the National Science Council and have published several high quality research papers. We have lots of experience on exchanging students, fellows and also research assistants to share research ideas and techniques. The research outcomes have been very fruitful and productive.

Q: Is it because of your previous collaboration with the professor in the US that you wanted to participate imthis program?

A: Yes. I gained lots of scientific knowledge, especially in tissue engineering from my fellow training at MD Anderson Cancer Center. However, I also realized it would be a great benefit to receive scientific inputs from researchers from all over the world to help expand our Center for Tissue Engineering, at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital. Through this opportunity, we can introduce international students to our center and collaborate on cutting edge regeneration research.

(3) Dr. Cheng’s Strength in Academic Field 

Personally, as a medical doctor, my strength is on reconstructive surgery and microsurgery. During my research fellow training at MD Anderson from 1998 to 1999, I had interests in expanding my career by investigating in basic translational research. We can gain knowledge from basic research in the lab to fulfill the demands set within the clinic. We have lots of clinical experiences; therefore, we get first hand information on clinical problems. Our idea is to solve clinical problems by using basic scientific knowledge gained through our lab and our collaboration with our colleagues, such as Dr Brey, and students from the SIT program.  They in turn gain first-hand experience in clinical settings, observing the problems that arise and learning how to better address their research towards a clinical demand.

(4) Dr. Cheng’s Collaborative Experience with Jarel Gandhi (2014 SIT Participant)

Jarel is an independent researcher and he is also very knowledgeable. It was clear from our first meeting that I wouldn’t have to spend much time with him in a one-on-one basis.  He came here prepared with a research plan, was able to adjust quickly to design his study more efficiently, and was productive in preparing all the materials and equipment to conduct the research very well. During the lab meetings, we shared knowledge through mutual discussion, reading papers and project presentation.

(5) Feedback about the Collaboration with Jarel

I was very pleased to collaborate with Jarel. Since surgical work and administration work took most of my time, the time left for me to interact with Jarel is very limited. Jarel is already a well-trained scientists. He can be very independent on working in his project. Moreover, I have a great research team here to work with Jarel. Through bi-weekly lab meeting, we get the chance to go through his project and discuss it. From the final progress report that he presented before he left, I saw that he is very productive on the projects that he worked in my lab.  Although the project is not completed, we are optimistic that the collaboration will result in a publication.

(6) Feedback about the SIT Program

Through the SIT program, Taiwan can be more internationalized on scientific studies. We can’t close our door and work on science on our own. We still have room to learn from and work together with researchers from other institutions and countries, in order to increase the impact of Taiwan on scientific literature. By joining this SIT program, we have an opportunity to learn from the students at the same time, and offer our strength and knowledge to them. My experiences have shown the SIT program to be mutually beneficial.  I look forward to participating in this program again in the future.

Introduction about Dr. Cheng’s Lab and his Research:

Jarel is from the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). I started a collaboration project with his PI, Dr. Eric Brey, back in 1999. At that time we designed a sheep bone graft model and completed study in twenty sheep. In each sheep, we placed five chambers in the ribs. Thus, total 100 chambers were installed.  Some of the results of that study are shown here. After that, Dr. Brey visited us a couple years later and we started another collaboration project. When he got married, I also went to Houston, Texas to participate his big day. We have become more than just science partners, most importantly; we are also very good friends. Within the last couple years, we have hosted 7 IIT graduate students (2 of them formally a part of SIT).   I have also visited IIT several times. In fact, I am going to visit Dr. Brey this coming October. Besides, Dr Brey has hosted several of my research staff members at IIT, allowing them to learn novel techniques from his lab. Furthermore, we continue to write projects together seeking grant funding, including NSC grants from Taiwan, grants from Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, and NSF grants from the US. To date, we have obtained 16 grants and have published 18 papers in collaboration in the top ranking journals, such as in Biomaterials. Finally, we have also established a center for tissue engineering here at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital. Dr. Brey has been instrumental in its progress, serving as a consultant. He gives us a lot of good opinions to improve our organization and to implement successful investigation in tissue engineering and stem cell application. Hopefully, our work will soon approach clinical applications via a clinical trial in the very near future. 

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