2017-18 CSC–NCD CRCC Joint Scholarship announced

Jiaxian Zhang is the first recipient of a PhD Scholarship from the Joint Funding Programme between China Scholarship Council and New Zealand-China Non-Communicable Diseases Research Collaboration Centre (CSC-NCD CRCC Joint Funding Programme).

In October 2017 Jiaxian (Jessy) Zhang enrolled in a PhD at the University of Otago, Dunedin, under the primary supervision of Associate Professor Ping Liu, this is fully supported by the CSC-NCD CRCC Joint Funding Programme.

Jiaxian initially trained as a medical doctor at the Inner Mongolia Medical University in China. She moved to Dunedin to undertake a Bachelor of Biomedical Science with Honours at the University of Otago, which culminated in two publications. This topic was extended further to a PhD thesis which investigates the effects of maternal immune activation on the brain function and neurochemistry of offspring during early developmental stages.

Knowledge gained from this work in offspring at high risk of schizophrenia will enhance our understanding of the underlying mechanisms of this disease and may lead to future development of novel preventions and/or therapeutics.

“My supervisors are very supportive and kind. The Department of Anatomy is a big department with many research platforms and it’s easy to communicate with other research groups because it’s all so close together!”

“This scholarship has not only provided support for my studies, but allows me to make a contribution to improving human health in both countries.”

In her spare time Jiaxian enjoys snowboarding, surfing and tramping, “New Zealand has beautiful scenery and friendly people, which have impressed me deeply. Living here has made me feel I can focus on my study and enjoy life. The balance between work and life allows me to have more energy to focus on my research”

“I’m enjoying every second of it and I hope I can make a contribution to research collaboration between China and New Zealand. I’ve been lucky and I want to give something back.”