Jiang is one of two Cedars-Sinai postdocs who were awarded the New Investigator Recognition Award from the Orthopaedic Research Society at its 2022 annual meeting in Tampa, Florida. The award recognized his research in pain-inducing mechanisms in lower back pain.
Here, we learn more about some of his scientific achievements and what he hopes will happen next in his career.
What has been your greatest challenge?
My greatest challenge is to learn and absorb newly emerged, fast-growing technologies. For example, my work largely leveraged single-cell RNA-seq, a new and powerful sequencing technology that only got popular and accessible in recent years. It requires coding, big data analysis and using the data to answer scientific questions. These are the new trends in biology, chemistry and engineering. It was a big challenge for me.
What has been your greatest scientific achievement in your career so far?
My greatest scientific achievement was to unveil the role of nucleus pulposus cells in inducing lower back pain, which is the leading cause of disability worldwide. This discovery identified many new therapeutic targets for this condition, which troubles almost 80% of adults. Based on this work, I am currently leading a collaborative team to develop cell-based, minimally invasive therapy to treat lower back pain. This National Institutes of Health-funded work will translate our discovery into groundbreaking treatments that hold promise for replacing addictive painkillers or invasive surgeries in the current standard.
Who is your science hero?
Albert Einstein. I think he is one of the few talents that could truly think outside the box. And I think that is the hardest thing to do in science: to think outside the box when you are literally inside a box and not to be blinded by the background noise.
In the future, what do you hope happens in your science career?
I hope to continue my current research and eventually make my research an actual improvement in clinical therapies. The Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute has an excellent environment for translational research. That has a very constructive impact on how I think of what kind of research I want to do in the future.
If it wasn’t for science, what else would you see yourself doing?
I probably would form a band and produce music or become a chef and start my own restaurant. If it is something that I can imbue my feelings and thoughts into, I’d be happy to do it.