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Queen Mary alumna wins top business award in China

A graduate from Queen Mary, University of London was named Chinese UK Alumnus of the Year at the British Business Awards - a biennial celebration of the importance and impact of British business in China.

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Huan Wang
Huan Wang

Queen Mary alumna Huan Wang, who is also known as Lily, was one of five finalists competing for the Chinese UK Alumnus Award, sponsored by the British Council.  This award goes to a Chinese national who has studied in the UK and can best demonstrate the positive influence that British education and culture has had on their chosen occupation.

Commenting on her nomination, Huan said: “I was so surprised to be selected as thousands of people enter this competition. I am so proud to represent Queen Mary. It’s an honour both for myself and for the College.”

Huan, who is originally from Tianjin, China, studied as an undergraduate at Nankai University before completing her doctorate between 2003 – 2007 at Queen Mary’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences. Working in the field of molecular biology, she conducted novel research into gene silencing under the supervision of Professor Conrad Lichtenstein and Dr Brendan Curran.*

“I was nominated for the effort I have put in to both my studies and work – life experiences that I am so proud of. This experience and this nomination have definitely helped me to be more confident, and to encourage me to carry on achieving,” Huan says.

In 2007 Huan moved to Liverpool University for post graduate research into type 2 diabetes, before returning to China to join a leading pharmaceutical company as a research scientist working on new drug discovery.

Since 2010, Huan has worked in Beijing for pharmaceutical research and development company Centaurus BioPharma. She currently manages projects to develop drugs to fight cancer and diabetes, with several of these drugs entering clinical trials in the near future. In 2010 Huan was awarded the “New Star of Science and Technology in Beijing” award and in 2012 became the youngest person to receive the High-Caliber Talent from Overseas Award by the government in Beijing.

“I believe it is important for scientists to also understand business,” comments Huan, who began studying part-time in 2010 for a Masters in Project Management with the Chinese Academy of Science.

Shortlisted candidates were judged on the individualism, knowledge and skills developed during their time in the UK. Judges looked for evidence of ongoing commitment to strengthening and building partnerships between China and the UK.

Huan adds: “I was a member of the Queen Mary Chinese Kickboxing club during my time in the UK, and continued to stay in touch with, and host, my friends upon my return to China. After studying at Queen Mary I persuaded two of my cousins to study in the UK. They have now both graduated and returned to China, where their experiences have greatly helped with finding good jobs in Tianjin.”

The winners were revealed at a Gala Awards Dinner in Shanghai on 8 November, an event that brings together British business leaders, decision makers and opinion formers to recognise and celebrate the very best of British business in China.

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*Huan Wang's thesis Investigation of RNA-induced gene silencing in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe can be found here.

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