Candace Tong-Li participated as investigator in a study of liquid biopsy for plasma circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) in patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancers. During that time, she found a second home in Sydney.
“A part of me still remains in that city by the azure waters of the Pacific: Sydney. That’s what MISTI is to me – a chance to not only push the bounds of culture, international collaboration, and scientific breakthroughs, but also find a second home ten thousand miles away.”

“At MIT you can often forget how large the world is. Just walk past the monitors in the Infinite. On those screens plays an endless loop of new ideas and big dreams. In lecture, we learn to master the forces of the world in a series of formulas and concepts that make sense,” says Candace of her experience prior to MISTI.

Candace could tell you how cancer works, at the most basic level. She could read a million textbooks about the subject, go through the cellular pathways that were painstakingly unveiled through the efforts of dedicated scientists. But to truly know cancer, she knows that you have to see how it intertwines with the lives of those it affects. She was surprised at how often her heart could soar and drop within the span of one day.

She shadowed her supervisor in Sydney, Dr. Adrian Lee, during his clinics. As a specialist in neuro-oncology, Lee handled extremely difficult cases, and did so with the utmost quality of patient care. Candace not only absorbed a great deal of knowledge, but also found a great role model when it came to patient-physician relationships. Dr. Lee not only taught Candace how to read a CT scan, he also taught her important life lessons that will last far beyond a medical career.

Several times, Candace sat down with well-known Professor Stephen Clarke and discussed future directions for the project, as well as her own path and goals. He gave Candace expert guidance at a critical point in her career development. She was able to learn from Clarke’s exemplary skills of perception and observation by watching him work with patients, colleagues, and students.

Candace had the rare opportunity to gain firsthand experience in clinical research, and her learning curve in medical knowledge was exponential. Having understood how important it is for oncology to continue towards breakthroughs, her future career will be in medical innovation. “Look forward to further collaboration when you are MD-PhD,” Professor Clarke signed for her in his book. It looks like Candace may be returning to Sydney soon!

  • Australia
  • Internship
  • Bio/Chem