Bingtao Tang, PhD Candidate, Molecular and Integrative Physiology
C*STAR Program, 2018 Cohort
What led to your interest in cancer research?
I received my bachelor’s degree in bioengineering from Xi’an Jiaotong University in China. After that, I came to the University of Illinois to pursue my PhD in physiology. My undergraduate study was to develop a novel nanoparticle which can specifically target cancer and release anti-tumor drugs inside of tumor tissue. This research experience led me to continue working on the development of cancer treatments.
How has the C*STAR Program helped you?
Since I started working on developing cancer treatments, I kept my eyes open for potential training programs regarding cancer treatment around campus. That’s how I found the C*STAR program. The C*STAR program connected me with experts like Terence Lichtor (MD; neurosurgeon, Carle), Heidi Phillips (VMD; microvascular surgeon, Veterinary Medicine), and Kari Foss (PhD; neurologist, Veterinary Medicine). By working with them, I got the chance to learn various methods and approaches to the development of cancer treatment from the clinical perspective. The program also enhanced my time management and teamwork abilities.
What kind of research are you currently working on?
Right now, I am working on developing a viro-immunotherapy for murine glioma. One thing that most people might not know is that viruses are not always bad; we can “engineer” a virus to kill tumors instead of healthy tissue. This treatment combines engineered oncolytic virus with adoptive T-cell therapy.
Why is this research important?
So far, this treatment has been shown to cure over 80% of glioma-bearing mice, which lays a great foundation for clinical trials with human patients. It would be a breakthrough if this treatment works on even just one type of tumor in humans.
What are your personal interests or hobbies?
I spend a lot of my free time at the ARC gym on campus, working out or playing tennis. I also like to try new and exciting activities, like learning how to fly airplanes, sailing boats, or going skydiving.