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Love in the Laboratory
A two-scientist couple chose Hopkins partly because of its family-friendly environment


Neuroscientists Guo-Li Ming, center, and Hongjun Song here with their children.

Neuroscientists Guo-Li Ming and Hongjun Song were high school sweethearts in China. Today, their Hopkins stem cell research laboratories are side by side. Together, they are working to find ways to regenerate brain cells after they are damaged by injury or disease. “We try to engineer stem cells to become the type of neuronal cell we need for a particular disease,” Song explains.

Though they’ve been at Hopkins for less than two years, Ming and Song have been partners in life and research for over a decade. They’ve hopscotched across the Pacific Ocean and the United States (twice) to complete their education. Song emigrated to America in 1992 to do graduate work at Columbia University. Ming joined him in 1994. Two years later, they moved from New York to San Diego so that Song could begin a postdoctoral fellowship.

“I was still deciding if I wanted to practice medicine or do research,” says Ming, who had earned her M.D. in China. One week after she started the graduate program in neuroscience at the University of California, San Diego, and a couple of months into Song’s postdoctoral fellowship there, son Max was born. For the first few months, Ming recalls, “because I had to go to class and Hongjun had to do his experiments, Max was in the lab every day in his little stroller.”

When Song and Ming were being recruited to the newly established Institute for Cell Engineering, they also received offers from other universities. They chose Hopkins in part because they saw it as a family-friendly environment. A number of two-scientist couples, they had learned, were on campus and even in the same departments. “Here they don’t think that’s a problem,” says Ming.

Less than a month after they arrived in 2004, Maggie was born. Today Max is 6. And while other children his age might ask their parents to read them fairy tales, he requests children’s science books. Maggie, her parents predict, will not be far behind.

Deborah Rudacille

 

 

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