Originally from Cupertino, CA, Ashley Fong has lived in southern California for the past eleven years and attending the University of California, Irvine for her undergraduate and graduate career. She began her journey in stem cell research during her third year as an undergraduate but her passion for the field first ignited when she had her internship at the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). She was surrounded by brilliant scientists who saw the potential stem cells had in treating debilitating diseases, and then incorporated that belief as her own which pushed her to pursue a PhD in stem cell research.
Working in the lab of Christopher Hughes, Fong studies how the microenvironment of the heart affects heart muscle cell maturation derived from stem cells. Through her graduate career Fong has been supported by two fellowships including the National Science Foundation’s IGERT Lifechips Fellowship and the Pre-Doctoral CIRM Fellowship. She has also developed a penchant for business, participating in the UCI Merage Business School’s Business Plan Competition, where her team won the 1st place Life Science Award worth $30,000. To further her career training, Fong has interned at UCI’s Office of Technology Alliances while taking an extension course about Medical Product Life Cycle Management.
She recently participated in the UC Grad Slam Competition where a representative from each UC school gave a three minute pitch about their research. She competed again nine other UC graduate representatives and took home the 1st place prize. Fong will be graduating in the beginning of 2016 and will be looking to join the biotechnology industry and a potential regenerative medicine startup. She seeks to combine her background in stem cell research with business to help the company deliver therapies to patients.