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Profile: Professor Tao Dong

Profile: Tao Dong

Professor Tao Dong, Supernumerary Fellow in Medicine

Professor Tao Dong is currently a Supernumerary Fellow in Medicine at University College, and Professor of Immunology at the University. She gained her DPhil from Trinity College and the Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, in 1998.

How did you come to Oxford? What were your first impressions of Oxford?
I came to Oxford in 1993 with my husband Dr Zhixin Li from China, who got a UK/China scholarship to do a D.Phil at the University of Oxford with Professor Robert Thomas at the Physical Chemistry department, who was also a senior fellow at Univ.

After I arrived in Oxford, I got a job as a research assistant in the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine working with Professor Sarah Rowland Johns and Professor Andrew McMichael, and I registered as a DPhil student soon after.

Oxford was more normal than I imagined, with nice and friendly people, very impressive old buildings, and quite a few posh English accents.

Profile: Tao Dong

Tao with her husband and daughter at her DPhil graduation in 1998

What does a day in your life look like?
If I am not travelling, most of my mornings are dedicated to writing research papers and grant proposals plus reviewing papers and grants. I am on the MRC Infection and Immunity board where reviewing grants is the main aspect of the job. I am also associate editor for an immunology journal. A lot of my time is spent keeping up with the updated research in my field and reading literature.

In the afternoon, I have meetings with people in my group to discuss their work. I try to see students every week, and postdocs every two weeks, to keep up with their progress. In addition, I very often need to be present at committee meetings, collaborative meetings and seminars throughout the week.

Have you faced any challenges pursuing academia? How did you overcome them?
Yes, all the time at all levels. I tell myself: keep going, don’t give up, do you best and hope for the best.

How do you relax?
I enjoy having tea with my daughters and friends, reading and walking (sometimes even driving). I love and treasure the holidays with family and friends.

Profile: Tao Dong

Tao’s lab at their Christmas party in 2018

What are your proudest achievements?
My two proudest achievements are getting a DPhil and a Professorship from Oxford, which was a very big thing for my family back in China, and negotiating the first Chinese overseas Medical Science Institute based in Oxford, and scholarships (10 per year) for doctors to study for a DPhil at the University.

How do you feel about the celebration of 40 years of women at Univ?
I think it is a great idea, in China we often say “women hold up half of the sky” so it is important to show our contribution to society, especially for young women so they have the confidence to achieve and have a flourishing and happy life.

woman at Univ logoWomen at Univ 2019. Celebrating 40 years of achievement by women students, academics and staff, and recovering the history of women in the College from 1249 to the present day.

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