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Researchers from China win prestigious award

By PAUL WELITZKIN | China Daily USA | Updated: 2018-09-10 23:57

For work that applies novel optical techniques for neuroscience, cancer research and transformative optical microscopy technologies, two natives of China have won a coveted award and $30,000 each.

Lingyan Shi and Lu Wei of Columbia University were among the 2018 winners of the Blavatnik Regional Awards for Young Scientists, The Blavatnik Family Foundation and the New York Academy of Sciences announced on Sept 5.

Supporting postdoctoral scientists from academic research institutions across New York, New Jersey and Connecticut since 2007, the Blavatnik Regional Awards pay tribute to researchers in three scientific categories: life sciences, physical sciences and engineering, and chemistry.

Wei was born in Wuhan in Hubei province and came to the US for graduate study at Columbia after obtaining a bachelor’s degree from Nanjing University. She is a physical chemist working at the interface of physics, chemistry and chemical biology.

“We have developed a powerful optical super-multiplex imaging method for non-invasive investigation of biomolecules inside cells and tissues that has almost quintupled the number of biological species that can be observed simultaneously than (from) fluorescence imaging. This allows researchers to collect significantly more data than they would previously collect and as such they are capable of developing a much better understanding of the complex biological processes occurring within cells,” Wei said in an email.

Wei’s award was in chemistry and she is currently an assistant professor at the California Institute of Technology.

Shi was born in Hangzhou in Zhejiang province and came to the US after earning a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from Tianjin University

“The Blavatnik Award (for physical sciences and engineering) recognized my work with novel optical techniques including the recent discovery of the “Golden Optical Window” for deep brain imaging, and a breakthrough platform imaging metabolic activities for early diagnosis of cancer, development and aging study,” Shi said in an email.

“I am currently working at Columbia University, developing new optical imaging and spectroscopic techniques for real-time probing metabolic activities in biological systems at subcellular scale, for neuroscience, cancer research and metabolic diseases,” she said.

The Blavatnik Family Foundation is an active supporter of many educational, scientific, cultural and charitable institutions in the US and throughout the world. The New York Academy of Sciences is an independent, not-for-profit organization that has been advancing scientific research, education and policy since 1817.

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