A rising research star: Meet the Faculty of Medicine’s Richard Jung

Posted on Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Richard Jung

“Having the mentors that I had at uOttawa is probably what made a huge impact in terms of my research productivity. There are mentors here who really care about your academic and personal success and help you grow as an individual."

-- Richard Jung

By David McFadden
Research Writer

From day one of his education at the uOttawa Faculty of Medicine, Richard Jung has met the challenge head on, showcasing serious grit and creativity. He’s been such a standout student that his academic supervisor describes his achievements as “unparalleled.”

With convocation on the immediate horizon, Richard is on the fast track to a highly successful career as a clinician-scientist, with a level of research productivity that’s remarkable at this early stage in his professional life.

Accolades have piled up. In recent weeks, Richard was selected as the Ottawa Region’s Cardiovascular Research Trainee of the Year, recognized for his research output and his outstanding leadership. He’s won a prestigious Vanier Scholarship, receiving $150,000 over three years towards his research, and the Dr. Frans Leenen Excellence in Publication Award from the University of Ottawa Heart Institute (UOHI).

Born in South Korea, he moved to Winnipeg with his family when he was 9. As a child, he always wanted to pursue medicine, inspired by the thought of helping people. He learned all about having a strong work ethic from his parents, who owned a grocery store and routinely worked 12- to 14-hour days.

He completed a Biochemistry Honours degree at the University of Manitoba in 2015. Then it was on to the uOttawa Faculty of Medicine and Dr. Benjamin Hibbert’s lab at the UOHI, with a focus on vascular biology and experimental medicine.

At the Faculty of Medicine, Richard has always been determined to make the best of the opportunities he’s received.

“When you work hard people recognize it and they'll give you more opportunities. So I think that cycle kind of perpetuates itself,” Richard said during a recent interview.

Dr. Hibbert, who describes Richard’s success as “unparalleled,” says the young man has published roughly 50 peer-reviewed papers since joining his team in 2017. This includes a Nature Communications paper on the importance of methodological rigor in COVID-19 research that was cited over 50 times in its first year of publication.

Richard also contributed significantly to the group’s New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) paper and is highlighted as a co-author while publishing impactful sub-analyses. Over the span of the last year alone, he published nine first-authored research papers.

“Richard is a rare breed indeed – able to blend translational and clinical research all while completing his medical school and a PhD in Biochemistry as part of the MD/PhD program,” Dr. Hibbert says. “Richard has achieved so much in his MD/PhD training that I really think the sky is the limit for such an ambitious, hard-working and intelligent young man.”

His string of publication successes from his PhD work isn’t even over: A final paper is coming out shortly in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC): Basic to Translational Sciences.

Richard credits his uOttawa mentors for helping him to prioritize clinical duties, research explorations, and also interests outside of academia.

“Having the mentors that I had at uOttawa is probably what made a huge impact in terms of my research productivity. There are mentors here who really care about your academic and personal success and help you grow as an individual,” he says.

Time management is one of the most important skills that he learned from his MD/PhD program.

“There are definitely long hours – some days, you don't get a lot of sleep! But you know, it definitely helps because at the end of the day you have the publications and the research to share with the potential to help other people, which I think is very important,” he says.

It’s been a tough challenge, particularly amid the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic. But it’s also been deeply rewarding. He says one of the best parts of his uOttawa Faculty of Medicine experience was undoubtedly the clerkship, where rotations allowed him to take part in everything from surgery and internal medicine to obstetrics and gynecology.

“I met some of my lifelong friends throughout that journey. You know, there's good times and then there's always bad times. But going through that journey together is what made it very special,” says Richard, who has provided mentorship for others embarking on the MD/PhD journey.

The clinician-scientist pathway and its “bench to bedside” approach - the process of taking research results from the lab into the clinic where it can directly benefit patients – is something Richard finds fascinating. Soon he will be an internal medicine resident at the University of Ottawa, where he’s sure he can continue to grow.

“It's really my dream institution,” Richard says.

Richard Jung

Richard Jung

Richard Jung

Photo credit : CaRMS, the Canadian Resident Matching Service

 

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