A chance meeting on a student shuttle bus put Wenchun Qu, M.D., Ph.D., on a new direction that years later would culminate in becoming the Jorge and Leslie Bacardi Associate Director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Regenerative Biotherapeutics in Florida.
During a ride to the University of Southern California (USC) where Dr. Qu was completing doctoral studies in the 1990s, he struck up a conversation with a young man he routinely saw on the bus.
"I asked what he was studying. He said, 'occupational therapy,' and explained it was about maximizing functional recovery from catastrophic disease or aging," says Dr. Qu. "That was the first time I had ever heard of rehabilitation. Viewing a patient not from functional loss but functional potential made so much sense to me. It was new to me; China didn’t have rehabilitation services at that time."
Fascinated by the concept of regenerating the body, Dr. Qu changed his doctoral studies from molecular biology to occupational science.
In the nearly two decades since that encounter on the bus, Dr. Qu has channeled his passion for rehabilitation into research and practice to help patients with musculoskeletal conditions such as spinal cord injuries, arthritis and back pain. He leads a regenerative medicine lab at Mayo Clinic dedicated to understanding whether cell and gene therapies have therapeutic potential to slow or stop spinal deterioration and regenerate the body.
"My interest is to develop the next generation cell and gene therapy strategies, particularly with genetically modified stem cells and cell products that address the inflammatory processes associated with degenerated intervertebral disc and joints found in limbs," says Dr. Qu. "My goal is to maintain the healthy structure, reduce pain and preserve function."
Read the rest of the article on the Center for Regenerative Biotherapeutics blog.
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