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Double degree, double pressure - Yige Bao, PhD Candidate

Yige Bao smiling for the camera in a lab setting.

Dr. Yige Bao has blazed a trail from Chengdu, China all the way to London, Ontario. He is the first trainee to participate in the Dual PhD program developed through a unique partnership between Schulich Medicine & Dentistry and Sichuan University in Chengdu. Bao is spending two years at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry and will return to China to complete this degree. 

Working with Gregor Reid, PhD, professor, Jeremy Burton, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Dr. John Denstedt, chair/chief, Department of Surgery, and Dr. Qiang Wei, chief, Department of Urology from West China Hospital of Sichuan University, Dr. Bao is investigating microbiota in the urinary tract and the role these bacteria may play in the pathogenesis of certain diseases including urinary stones and bladder cancer.

Until recently, it was believed that urine was sterile. But by using a new technique, 16S rRNA gene sequencing instead of a traditional culture, it has been discovered that bacteria does in fact exist in the urinary tract. The questions Bao and others are trying to answer is why the bacteria are there and the impact they may be having.

His research will continue when he returns to China, where he can take advantage of the huge patient volume there, and determine if the trend is evident given a larger population database.

It was a childhood fascination with how things work, that has led Dr. Bao to first study medicine and now pursue his PhD. His early curiosity moved from the mechanics of aircraft carriers, planes and video games to the mechanics of the body.

Today he enjoys the delicate intricacies of equipment-facilitated laparoscopic and endoscopic surgery involved with urology – something he associates with his love of video games growing up. He feels a great sense of fulfillment helping a patient through surgery and recovery. His curious nature remains, and the research he is doing entices him to delve deeper to find answers.

Dr. Bao feels a great deal of responsibility as the first student in the Dual PhD program. “You need to set a good example so people can see that this program works, and attract students,” he said. He is working hard to encourage other students to follow in his footsteps, answering questions from interested candidates. He also took the time to promote London when he participated in a video last year, promoting international studies in London. Click here to watch the video.

Reid believes Dr. Bao is an excellent first candidate for the dual PhD program. “Dr. Bao is extremely hard working. Since joining my lab, he has learned very complicated science and is always hungry to learn more. There could not have been a better first candidate for this program” he said.

Once his PhD is complete Dr. Bao is planning to begin a medical practice while continuing with his research. Already an advocate for the Dual PhD program, he will continue to promote partnerships and collaborations between Canada and China.