This is a brief introduction of the Workshops on “Scientific Methods: Survival Skills for Young Biomedical Investigators,” that I gave in 2012 and 2018 at the School of Life Sciences Peking University. I have a long-standing friendship and collaboration with Professors Zhai Zhonghe and Ding Mingxiao (former Dean of the School of Life Sciences) to study intermediate filaments and membrane specialization. Professor Ding did two sabbaticals in my lab in NYU School of Medicine, which were productive, fun and memorable. Three of us co-supervised a graduate student, Feng-Xia Liang, who is now a Professor and Director of the Microscopy Core Laboratory at NYU School of Medicine. Professor Deng Hongkui, after making a ground-breaking discovery at NYU of the T cell receptor of AIDS virus, returned to PKU in 2002 and also became a wonderful friend.
Inaddition to doing research https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=fZ4YI_MAAAAJ&hl=en, I was always curious as towhy some students can get experiments to work seemingly easily and obtain good results,while others fumble. After working on this for three or four years, it finally occurredto me in 2000 that the problem lies in the fact that the latter type ofstudents excessively trusts “authorities”, e.g., the professor, textbook,experimental protocol book. They think as long as they follow a publishedprotocol (a form of authority), even if they don’t understand it, theexperiment should work. However, in real life doing experiments without athorough and critical understanding of the protocol often fails, and thiscauses endless frustration. By incorporating the concept of “risk assessmentand management”, I came up with a way of teaching experimental design – as Iexplained in detail in Lecture One (How to get any lab techniques to work) – that greatly increases thechance of success. Subsequently, I developed three additional talks to dealwith how to read papers and generate ideas (Lecture Two), how to write papers(Lecture Three), and how to give a talk (Lecture Four). I believe these fourtopics represent essential skills that a young biomedical investigator must masterin order to be able to do research.
Thevideotapes of the two workshops included here were recorded in 2012 (all fourlectures) and 2018 (when I gave only Lectures 1 and 2). Viewing the twoworkshops that were given six years apart helps a viewer to more easilyunderstand some of the concepts that are discussed in, e.g., Lecture One.Personally, I think my slide making skill has improved a little bit over theyears, and the number of words I can utter per minute decreased in in the latertalk probably as a result of aging.
Tung-Tien (Henry) Sun is Professor Emeritus of Cell Biology, Dermatology, Urology and Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology at New York University School of Medicine. After receiving his PhD in biochemistry from the University of California, Davis (1974) and postdoctoral training in cell biology from Howard Green in MIT (1974-1977), he was recruited by late Irwin M. Freedberg in 1978 to join the newly established Department of Dermatology at Hopkins as an assistant professor. He was promoted in 1981 to associate professor of Dermatology, Cell Biology and Ophthalmology at Johns Hopkins Medical School, before he moved to NYU. The major discoveries that he and his collaborators made include: (i) establishing keratins as major epithelial intermediate filaments; that antibodies (such as the monoclonal antibodies AE1 and AE3 that he made) are useful surgical pathological tools for the positive identification of the keratin-positive carcinoma; and that specific keratin pairs are markers for different pathways and stages of epithelial differentiation (e.g., K5/K14, K1/K10 and K6/K16 pairs as markers for keratinocyte basal cells, keratinization, and hyperplasia); (ii) localizing corneal epithelial stem cells and hair follicular stem cells in the corneal limbus and hair bulge, respectively (with George Cotsarelis and Robert Lavker), and (iii) identification of uroplakins as major urothelial differentiation markers. For a list of his publications see https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=fZ4YI_MAAAAJ&hl=en. He was elected Fellow of AAAS (1992) and member of Academia Sinica, Taiwan (2002); delivered named lectures at the American Academy of Dermatopathologists (1986), Univ. of Toronto Med Sch (1986), Stanford Med Sch (1987), Harvard Med Sch (1991), Japanese Society for Investigative Dermatology (1998), Johns Hopkins Med Sch (2001) and British Society of Cell Biology (2003); received Montagna Award in dermatological research (1989); Alcon Award in ophthalmological research (1993); Wu Award in urological research (1999); and he held adjunct and honorary professorships at many universities including Cornell, UPenn, National Taiwan University and Peking University. For his CV see http://sun-lab.med.nyu.edu/files/sun-lab/u2/tung-tien-sun-cv-apr-2017-rev2.pdf.