Making a Mark for Women in Science (Part 4): Chen Qi, Immunology Scientist

by and | May 13, 2020 | Biology, Research, School of Biological Sciences, Women in Science

In the last instalment of Making a Mark for Women in Science, we meet NTU School of Biological Sciences immunology scientist Chen Qi, who is a recipient of the 2020 Women in Engineering, Science, and Technology (WiEST) Conference Grant. She gives a glimpse into her research and her aspirations for women in science.

What inspired you to pursue a career in Science?

In primary school, I had to write a composition about “my dream”. Without knowing what it meant, I wrote that I aspired to be a scientist. I studied biology in university, and was fascinated by various types of cells and how cells communicate in the biological world. I then decided to pursue a PhD, hoping to further delve into biology, and to push for new innovations in this field. Years have passed since I wrote that composition, and I am well on my way to fulfilling my dream of being a scientist.

How did you first become interested in Immunology?

Four years of studying biology in university made me realize that immunology is an important branch of medical science. It is crucial for discovering new medical interventions and treatment for different diseases, and has led to some key healthcare advances, such as vaccination and cancer immunotherapy. Prior to doing my PhD, I completed a Master’s degree in Immunology, during which my interest in this filed grew.

What are you currently working on, and how did your PhD experience benefit you?

I am currently a Research Fellow in Professor Christiane Ruedl’s lab. Prior to this, I did my PhD in her lab, where I conducted a comprehensive investigation of adipose tissue macrophage subpopulations in health and obesity. We found the key lipid metabolic and tissue remodelling function of one specific adipose tissue macrophage subset during the progression of diabetes, which will be an important finding in this field and may have important applications in clinical studies. We published one paper in Journal of Leukocyte Biology (1) and we have another major manuscript in preparation. I was involved in few research projects (2 and 3) and I picked up many experimental skills and gained a lot of knowledge during my PhD research.  As a result, I became more confident as a researcher.

Adipose tissue macrophage (ATM) subset frequencies change during obesity-dependent fat remodelling. By using a fate mapping mouse model, we found that the turnover kinetics differ between ATM subsets that share the same embryonic origin. Lean steady state ATM subsets display slow turnover kinetics, while obesity augments ATM turnover during the fat tissue remodelling. (From the work published in reference 1).

What are you seeking to accomplish in the long run?

The immune system is more complex than we think – it can protect us from infection and disease, but at the same time it can led to autoimmune disease.  There are still a lot of things in this field waiting to be discovered. In the long term, I would like to investigate the currently unknown and potentially critical aspects of the immune system, and use my findings to contribute to clinical studies.

Any advice you might have for other women interested in science or the WIEST Conference Grant?

For women who are interested in science, just go for it! Science could get a bit dry sometimes, but you stand to learn lot from it – not just knowledge, but patience and determination. For our current female researchers, I highly recommend applying for this grant. If you win it, you’re not just receiving a grant – you’re paving the way for women in science!

About the WiEST Conference Grant

The Julia & Ken Gouw Foundation with the College of Engineering and the College of Science at Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore) established WiEST Conference Grant in 2018 for: Women in Science, Engineering & Technology to facilitate networking opportunities for young women engineers and scientists to embark on their careers. For more info, click here.


  1. Chen Q and Ruedl C. Obesity retunes turnover kinetics of tissue-resident macrophages in fat. Journal of Leukocyte Biology, 2020.
  2. Sheng J., Chen Q., Soncin I., Ng Sl., Karjalainen K., Ruedl C. A discrete subset of monocyte-derived cells among typical conventional type 2 dendritic cells can efficiently cross-present. Cell Rep, 2017.
  3. Sonin I., Sheng J., Chen Q., Foo S., Duan K., Lum J., Poidinger M., Zolezzi F., Karjalainen K., Ruedl C. The tumor microenvironment creates a niche for the self-renewal of tumor-promoting macrophages in colon adenoma. Nat Commun, 2018.
Skip to toolbar