Wuji Zhang

PhD Student, Department of Microbiology & Immunology

What does your research focus on and why is it important?

I look at immune responses in individuals who have been infected by SARS-CoV-2/influenza viruses or received COVID-19/influenza vaccines. I primarily focus on blood samples but also look at some respiratory samples from COVID-19 patients.

The COVID-19 pandemic has influenced our daily life a lot. Some types of influenza viruses (specifically influenza A viruses) that infect animals like birds also have the potential of causing pandemics. I study how our immune system responds to the virus/vaccine to better understand the infection and see whether current vaccination has induced good immune responses.

What did you learn from your biggest mistake?

I started my PhD in early 2020 when the COVID pandemic just started. At that time there were often delays in shipments and I had to delay my experiments. At least for experiment planning, I think it is important to think about details on a practical level as a lot of things can go wrong when you don't plan well.

How do you see your area of research evolving in the next five years?

The COVID pandemic has drawn people's attention to infectious diseases and I believe it will remain a hot topic in the next few years. Although we have vaccines for COVID now, new COVID variants and new viruses will keep emerging, so there is a lot more research that needs to be done to better protect us from newly emerging viruses.

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