Prof. Wendy Wei-Lynn Wong

Wendy Wei-Lynn Wong

Professor for cell death, immunity, inflammation and cancer


«There is always something you can learn from someone or an experience.»

1994 - 1999 BSc Co-op Biochemistry, University of Guelph, Canada
1999 - 2005 Dissertation: “Identification and characterization of novel compounds for the selective induction of apoptosis in tumour cells”, University of Toronto, Canada
2005 - 2011 Postdoc: “Determining the role of inhibitors of apoptosis proteins in myeloid cell development and inflammation”, LaTrobe University, Walter Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Melbourne, Australia
2011 - 2016 Group Leader: Functions of cell death proteins in disease and inflammation, University of Zurich
since 2016 Assistant Professor: Functions of cell death proteins in disease and inflammation, University of Zurich

Wissenschaftliche Arbeit versus andere Berufstätigkeit: Weshalb haben Sie sich für die Wissenschaft entschieden?

There are few jobs where you constantly get to continually discover and learn new things. I was fascinated that cells had a program to commit suicide and the possibilities to re-wire the cell to start and stop this process hooked me from very early on.

Gab es in Ihrer Karriere besonders prägende Durststrecken oder Misserfolge? Wie überwanden Sie diese?

Yes, when things fail, you pick yourself up and try again. Perseverance has worked well for me. It’s important to me that the environment I set allows everyone the chance to contribute in a non-threatening and demeaning atmosphere.

Welche Massnahmen ergreifen Sie als Professorin, um den wissenschaftlichen Nachwuchs (insbesondere Frauen) an Ihrem Institut zu fördern?

By bringing in women to give talks about their scientific research, I hope to avoid giving students and postdocs the subliminal message that only men can do it. The environment won’t change until both men and women realize there is more to gain by having more diversity.

Welche Tipps geben Sie einer Jungforscherin mit auf den Weg, die eine akademische Karriere ins Auge fasst?

I have had a number of mentors who have pushed me in the right direction, even if I didn’t realize it at the time. It would be wrong not to “pass it on” – find people you enjoy working with and respect, then you can really start discovering. There’s no right time to have a family – you just have to go for it.

Ist es aus Ihrer Sicht eine Herausforderung die Balance zwischen der Forschung/der praktischen Arbeit in der Klink und der Familie/dem Privatleben zu halten? Wie gehen Sie damit um?

Balancing family life and work is hard, particularly in a new country where the system is different. I think it took us three tries to get “Räbeliechtli” right with the turnip, extra candles, food and extra matches. Sounds simple, but it’s not! I could not do this without the help, understanding and encouragement from my husband.