Daniel Kwon

UBC graduate student Daniel Kwon
Targeting the Tumour Microenvironment for PET Imaging and Radionuclide Therapy
Francois Benard
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

The MD/PhD program offered the exciting opportunity to combine my love of research with my passion for patient care to enable clinical translation of findings in the laboratory to medical practice. For me, research is not only being able to come up with complex and interesting solutions to pressing problems but also being able to ask the right problem in the first place. I've never shied away from asking questions and to be in an environment with rigorous training to flex my creativity and curiosity to learn to ask interesting questions with important implications is exciting to me. I also find it very intellectually satisfying to be the first to come up with interesting and novel solutions to problems. However, I am also passionate about the impact on patients and society from all the wonderful medical and scientific research done across the world. I look up to my supervisor who enables the work of other scientists, especially in chemistry, to be applied to preclinical models and be able to coordinate and lead clinical trials that have a lasting and tangible effect on patients in BC and across Canada. To be trained to do medical research that will hopefully have a lasting impact on even one person's life is a significant privilege to me.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

As I transferred into the MD/PhD program, there was very little choice with respect to the location of my doctoral studies! However, fortunately, UBC and BC Cancer are houses to a very strong functional imaging department, led by Dr. Francois Benard, who is considered to be one of Canada's leading experts in nuclear medicine. Given my interest in medical imaging as a research discipline, I was enthusiastic in pursuing a dual medical and doctoral program that will rigorously train me both as a physician and a scientist in medical imaging.

What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?

The MD/PhD program at UBC has the ultimate goal of training Canada's next generation of clinician-scientists, which aligned with my own personal goals and interests in pursuing a career that combines both patient care and laboratory work. However, beyond the obvious interest, the program actively works to ensure that their students have the greatest amount of success in both their graduate studies, such as providing resources for students to attend research conferences and hosting seminars led by clinician-scientists at UBC.

What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?

As someone who has previously attended UBC and a Vancouverite for the past 23 years, there were few surprises to my life outside the lab. However, I am fortunate that my classmates in my year of the program are all new to Vancouver, giving me plenty of opportunities to explore and experience all that Vancouver has to offer again.

The MD/PhD program offered the exciting opportunity to combine my love of research with my passion for patient care to enable clinical translation of findings in the laboratory to medical practice.
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?

I think my parents' dedication and discipline to both our family and their work has rubbed off on me to give my best effort in anything in life, especially when it comes to my doctoral research. My previous research experience in synthetic organic chemistry, which has taught me to put in long hours and backbreaking work, has also been a huge asset.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

The most capable person who can ensure your success in graduate school is you. Be your own best advocate and always reflect on how to optimize your success in research from the big picture, such as selecting a research discipline or advisor, even to the mundane everyday routine, such as designing experiments with a specific purpose. Always be sure to consult others for advice but only you can make the final decision after reflection. And finally, learn to develop and trust your gut instinct that will guide you in making these decisions. The biggest factor that led me to my current advisor was my gut instinct and it's worked out fairly well so far.


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