Yaohua Wang wins ABC Best Paper Award
N. Oberbeckmann-Winter (
) Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry
, Springer, Tiergartenstrasse 17,
69121 Heidelberg, Germany
Yaohua Wang was born in 1982. She received her PhD
degree in analytical chemistry from the University of
Minnesota in 2010. The main focus of her PhD research was on
the development of capillary electrophoresis based
techniques for analysis of an anti-cancer drug, doxorubicin, in
tissues, cells, and subcellular fractions. Her work also
covered the development of techniques and methods for sample
How do you see your field developing and how do you see
it affecting bioanalytical research?
Although studied for many years, cancer and cancer
treatment are still mysterious in many areas. Most studies are on
the cellular level or above. With the possibility of isolating
pure and functional organelles, we can begin to study the
subcellular level. This should help explain the mysteries of
cancer and cancer treatment.
The bioanalytical techniques we developed for isolation of
organelles with biological function will enable study of
anticancer drugs at a new level, i.e., the subcellular level. This
will lead to better understanding of the efficacy and toxicity
of anti-cancer drugs, and will aid the design of more specific
How does the Award-winning work relate to your PhD
research and your current work?
My PhD research focused on developing analytical and
bioanalytical techniques and methods for study of the
subcellular distribution and metabolism of the anti-cancer drug,
doxorubicin. The study of doxorubicin in peroxisomes was
an indispensable part and had never been studied before.
How would you explain your research to your child?
I would tell her that our body is like a big mansion which is
built up with numerous small blocks. The blocks we study
are called organelles. Our work is to identify the blocks in
which anti-cancer drugs accumulate and how they change in
What is the most difficult problem you have had to
overcome in that research? How did you solve it?
The hardest part of the research was to ensure the
peroxisomes were isolated with high purity and functionality. We
carefully controlled the isolation conditions and tried
different methods to block the nonspecific binding sites of the
materials we used. We also used different assays to check the
purity and functionality of the isolated peroxisomes.
Research is increasingly being conducted in attempts to
understand biological activity at the subcellular level.
On the one hand, this provides valuable
organellespecific information. On the other hand, subcellular
analysis provides opportunities for the development of
new bioanalytical techniques, for example subcellular
Which incident or discovery has proved most valuable
for your own research?
The development of laser-induced fluorescence detection is
very valuable in my research, because it is an ultra-sensitive
detection technique. In our laboratory, by use of
laserinduced fluorescence detection coupled with capillary
electrophoresis, we can detect amounts of analytes as low as
zeptomoles (1021 mole). With this technique, it is possible
to monitor anti-cancer drug metabolism in subcellular
compartments, even in individual organelles.
Which incident or discovery most inspired you during
your education and scientific career?
Single cell and individual organelle analysis comes to mind.
Heterogeneity from cell to cell and from organelle to
organelle can have important consequences on the function of the
whole system. With the development of new analytical
techniques, single cell and organelle analysis can reveal more
fundamental biological principles that help to improve the
detection and treatment of diseases. This inspired me to
perform my research on cells and organelles and, further,
on single cells and individual organelles.
Which recent discovery might prove most valuable to
(bio)analytical research or beyond?
Micro total analysis systems will be one. These enable all
steps of an analysis to be performed on a chip, saving time,
labor, and cost. Their application to a variety of fields, for
example biological, clinical, and environmental analysis, is
promising. With these devices, the work described in my
paper (immunoisolation of peroxisomes and monitoring of
peroxisomal anti-cancer drug metabolism) could be achieved
on a chip.
What was the best or worst advice you ever received?
What are your future plans?
The best advice was: All things work together for good.
My advisor, Edgar Arriaga, supported me not only
scientifically but also emotionally. I enjoyed brainstorming my
plans and results with him. My colleagues also gave me great
I would like to continue to develop analytical and bioanalytical
techniques and methods to solve problems in different areas, for
example pharmaceutical and environmental analysis.
What do you do in your spare time?
I like to travel to different places, but now I enjoy spending
all my spare time with my seven-month-old daughter.
Playing with her and watching her grow is rewarding.