Occupation: Assistant Professor and Investigator, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School
CAN “MARTIN” ZHANG IS A LEADING researcher in the fight against one of our nation’s fastest growing, incurable diseases: Alzheimer’s. After earning his MD at Weifang Medical University in China, Zhang became interested in understanding and regulating disease pathology at the molecular level. He earned his PhD in molecular biology with an emphasis on neuroscience under Drexel’s Aleister Saunders, PhD, and then went on to postdoctoral training in the Genetics and Aging Research Unit of Massachusetts General Hospital. Today, as a researcher and assistant professor at MGH and Harvard Medical School, his work focuses on identifying the mechanism of neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s disease. His goal is to uncover molecular targets and biomarkers that will aid in developing new therapeutic strategies to treat this devastating disease.
Favorite two books right now?
“The Three Kingdoms” and “Decoding Darkness”
Who are your heroes?
My parents and my wife
Last time you did something for the first time?
This past Halloween. Carved a Jack-O’-Lantern designed by my daughter
Best mistake you ever made?
This question kept me thinking. I wavered between “went to medical school” and “pursued biomedical training” — they are very closely related but different career paths. I think medical school is the “best mistake” because I can understand and further develop some exciting biomedical projects through my formal medical training, even though I did not end up practicing medicine.
Favorite Drexel memory?
Building friendships and connections within the inclusive Drexel community (e.g., in Dr. Saunders’ laboratory and the Department of Biology, at the basketball court — we played almost every Friday evening — and in the Alternative Spring Break program).
Current event you wish people knew more about?
Alzheimer’s disease and healthy aging. We are working hard to develop a deeper and better understanding of Alzheimer’s disease through global and multidisciplinary collaborations and integrative networks.
Proudest accomplishment so far?
Elucidated the roles of genes and pharmacological agents in Alzhiemer’s disease. The results were published in reputable journals, Nature and Science, and were highly evaluated.
What is your favorite of the five senses and why?
Sight. It works better together with other senses, but it appears to last longer and seems to be the first one I reference when I recall events.
If you had the time to learn any skill, what would it be?
Acting. I enjoy watching movies and am impressed by good actors.
If you could communicate using only Twitter or Instagram, which would you choose (i.e., words or pictures)?
Pictures. 95% pictures and 5% words.
How do you “give back”?
By inspiring people through education and training to build a more inclusive community
What makes the world go ’round?
Caring, effort and purpose.