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Spotlight Story

Jenny Chang
Helping people who suffer from heart failure

Jenny Chang graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree with honors in genetics.During her undergraduate career, she received a Hilldale/Holstrom award for research, and participated in the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow (SURF) program at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., in 2005. She began hergraduate school training at Loyola University of Chicago prior to moving to UC Davis in 2008 with her advisor. Currently, she is on a two-year predoctoral fellowship from the American Heart Association to fund her dissertation project.

The following interview took place in 2011. Jenny is an alumnus of the Business Development Fellows Program 2011/12.

What’s important about your research—and where do you hope to take it?

My lab focuses on how the heart works and the underlying mechanism of many heart diseases. We are interested in the basic cellular changes that occur when the heart is subjected to various stress stimuli, such as pressure, drugs and electric signals. I am studying the activation and functions of an emerging kinase—protein kinase D—and its importance in hypertrophy and heart failure.

What are you most passionate about in your work?  

I am driven by the potential to help people who suffer from heart failure. Protein kinase D is an important transducer of mediating external stress signals to intracellular functions. It has an important role in the onset of hypertrophy, which progresses into heart failure over time. I believe that, in the near future, my research will identify how this protein can be used to diagnose and treat hypertrophy and heart failure.

How will the Business Development Fellows program help you to change the world?

I’m learning how to build a team, put an idea into practice, and market an idea or product to the general public. My long-term goal is to use my research expertise to develop an effective and affordable therapeutic drug for patients who are suffering from heart disease. I believe that my experiences as a Business Development Fellow will teach me how to translate my ideas into products that have real impact in the real