Dr. Ju-Sheng Zheng
DSM Science & Technology Awards Asia (2015)
This year’s Science & Technology Award Asia for outstanding PhD research went to Dr. Ju-Sheng Zheng, from Hangzhou, China, for his work on the association between omega-3 fatty acids and type 2 diabetes. Shortly after the lively presentation event hosted by DSM at the 12th Chinese Nutrition Society conference in Beijing, Ju-Sheng talked about his work and what the award means to him:
“Nutrition is medicine and medicine is nutrition”
My interest in science is driven by natural curiosity. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to know exactly how the human body functions. In China we have a saying: ‘nutrition is medicine, and medicine is nutrition.’ So I decided to study Food Science and Nutrition, which eventually led to my PhD and the topic of my presentation here at this conference: The association of dietary omega-3 fatty acids with type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases and related mechanisms.
The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is a major public health issue in China
Type 2 diabetes, which is becoming increasingly prevalent in China and all over the world, is known to be influenced by environmental and dietary factors. To find out more about the mechanisms surrounding omega-3 fatty acids, one of these dietary factors, I undertook a systematic review of population studies for my PhD research.
PhD studies – a time of personal development
The research also involved designing a large clinical trial with diabetes patients who were asked to take fish, flaxseed or corn oil. This was a very valuable experience – not least because we had to coordinate the strict criteria and requirements of our trial with the practical needs of busy hospital doctors whose priority was, of course, to help their patients.
That my PhD studies at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou were so fruitful was due in no small part to my inspirational doctoral supervisor and mentor, Professor LI Duo. Prof. LI, and indeed his wife and family, helped me in my daily life and made me not only a better scientist but also, I believe, a better man and I am very grateful to them.
DSM Award offers important encouragement to young scientists
It was in Hangzhou, two years ago, that I first heard of DSM and the Science & Technology Awards. These awards offer important encouragement to young scientists like myself, not only in China but in Europe and America, too, and I would like to thank DSM for the award – and for the chance to come back to my home country and enjoy some real Chinese food again!
The next step
But for now my curiosity has taken me to the UK, to Cambridge University, where I am a Career Development Fellow in the Nutritional Epidemiology team investigating nutritional biomarkers and their associations with type 2 diabetes. This is how I see my future, as part of global scientific endeavor, pursuing valuable research that will, I hope, one day improve the lives of people all over the world.