“Most people don’t realize the first class bio-medical research that is going on at SVSU. We’ve become an excellent state university, not only in teaching but in the outstanding research that’s going on.”
The work requires patience, time, focus and diligence, but the potential reward for Bing Yang, associate professor of biology, places his work on the cutting edge of medical research. Bing Yang’s research, – to identify a gene that can lead to the early diagnosis of cancer, – is part of the burgeoning field of medical study known as “predictive medicine;” knowing a patient’s genetic predisposition can increase the likelihood of early cancer detection and therefore, improve the odds for survival.
Yang’s cancer research began when he identified a gene in mice that is tied to lupus, an autoimmune disease. From there, he and his students spent countless hours examining the genetic material in cancerous mice, where they found similar mutations. Yang then began testing human tissue samples and found an abnormal gene in a high percentage of cancer patients. His findings were reported in April 2004 at a conference of the American Association for Cancer Researchers.
Bing isn’t only excited about his work from a researcher’s point of view, his faculty perspective equally enthuses him. He notes that nowadays, employers want new-hires with hands-on experience. The know-how Bing’s students gain from working by his side make them so much more than grads with a degree.
Bing loves to share a smattering of success stories. He cites the recent biology major who, because of her lab experience, landed a job as a biotechnology researcher. And then there is the SVSU grad who received a one-year fellowship to the National Institute of Health, followed by acceptance into graduate school at the University of Michigan. Bing even works with high school students, and tells of one young woman whose work has led to 15 state, regional and national awards.
Bing understands that it will likely be years before his cancer research is complete. Still, he knows that his work will provide many students-to-come with the opportunity to be a part of something that is truly and potentially life altering.