Membership Spotlight on Jiwen Zhang, PhD
Hometown: Tongliao, China
Current Residence: Philadelphia, PA USA
Graduate Degree: Rutgers University and University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
Current Position: Regulatory Affairs Director at GE Healthcare
Please tell us about your areas of expertise and current position.
I am currently a regulatory affairs director at GE Healthcare, working on strategic initiatives in cell technology and biotechnology. My expertise is in regulatory strategy development and execution. One focus area of my work is to develop stem cell technology as a drug development tool. I also work in the areas of cell therapy/regenerative medicine (RM). As the RM field is rapidly evolving, the goal of my strategic initiatives is to work with regulators and other stakeholders to influence and shape the regulatory landscape.
What led you to your current industry position?
I received my PhD in neuroscience and, while doing postdoc work in the immunology department at Schering-Plough (now Merck), I realized I was more interested in the whole drug development process versus just the research. I consulted with several colleagues and my department head and was steered toward regulatory affairs. I have loved my job ever since. Many universities offer a master’s degree in regulatory affairs now, so more young people are finding their way down this career path.
While I enjoy the breath of areas that regulatory work touches on, I like the biotech and cell tech areas the most because of the cutting edge science and technology and the promise they offer to patients in need.
How do you spend your free time?
I enjoy reading, hiking and playing tennis, if I can find the time and a partner.
Most of all, I love spending time with my kids – ages 14 and 7. So much time and thought goes into raising children. My oldest is interested in science, and has even said he wishes to be a neurosurgeon. I tell him that, more than anything, he needs to be persistent.
What is one thing your peers would be surprised to learn about you?
I grew up in Tongliao in Inner Mongolia, which is part of mainland China, not the Mongolia country, and I came here for graduate school. I visit periodically, and have been there once with each of my children. My parents travel to the U.S. every year to see us.
What do you like most about living and working in the Philadelphia area?
I like that Philadelphia is a major hub of the pharma and biotech industries, and that its proximity to New York and DC allows me to easily visit those cities. I think about retiring to New York City someday.
What do you gain from your membership with ISSCR?
Even though I work in regulatory affairs, I consider myself a scientist at heart. The ISSCR offers me direct access to what is happening in the stem cell research and technology worlds. Hearing firsthand about the new discoveries and progress made in the field makes me work harder at my job to help deliver the most innovative treatments to patients.
Are you planning to attend the ISSCR Annual Meeting in Vancouver in a few weeks?
Yes, and I look forward to everything. Unlike a research scientist in this field, working in regulatory affairs limits my exposure to scientific discoveries and technology advancement. Attending the ISSCR Annual Meeting gives me the opportunity to indulge myself in the research atmosphere and gets me excited and ready to tackle the world.