Melody Jin Teng

Melody Jin Teng CHUNG
Head Engineering Student Ambassador, 2023-24
Engineering Student Ambassador, 2021-22
Class of 2023,
PhD in Bioengineering
Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering
Yew Chung International School of Shanghai (China), Hin Hua High School (Malaysia)

I discovered my passion for engineering during my undergraduate studies at HKUST. I came from a pure science background. My parents are a chemist and a biochemist, so immediately after high school I decided to walk in their footsteps to pursue a degree in Biochemistry and Cell Biology (IRE) at HKUST. But studying the facts and phenomena in Biology no longer satisfies my appetite. I joined the Student Innovation of Global Health Technology (SIGHT) offered by SENG during UG. It allowed me to see the gap between the scientific discoveries and applications, and to adopt design thinking skills to solve the gaps in addressing societal and industrial needs. 

Take CAR-T therapy for example: it is very promising in curing cancer, but the cost is so high (USD 373,000 per treatment course as of 2020) that only so few patients can benefit from it. Gaps mean opportunities, so I switched my learning journey to Bioengineering after UG at HKUST. I set foot on the field of biomaterials and drug delivery. My PG supervisor is Prof. Ying CHAU, who is also the director of SIGHT. In her lab, I can continue to apply design thinking skills and combine them with my background in Biology and research. There, I discovered my passion for engineering. I currently research on the design of biomaterials for immunomodulation. My goal is to seek cheaper alternatives for cancer immunotherapy using biomaterials, so that more patients can benefit from this novel treatment regime. 

My advice to my fellow juniors is to be never afraid to take risks. Stay open-minded and be passionate and good at what you do. Progress is always better than perfection. There is never a perfect choice; choose to grow anyway.