Ralf Jauch: A German scientist whose roots are in China

By Huang Yi & Li Yuan
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Today, July 17, 2017
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Ralf Jauch [Photo/China Today]

Ralf Jauch, a German scientist from Jena, a city in the state of Thuringia, now lives in China as a full-time research fellow with the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) at the Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health. Jauch's main research interests lie in genomics, stem cell biology and structural biology. In 2014 he enrolled in the "100 Talents Program" at CAS. Jauch's connection with China can be traced back to his childhood: his father served as deputy mayor of Jena and was committed to promoting cooperation between Guangzhou and Jena.

Adventure in China

Jauch first came to China in 2012 with his father, as part of an exchange program delegation. They visited Beijing, Guangzhou and Hong Kong. "The visit gave me the chance to learn more about China, a giant country full of vigor," Jauch said. Despite having lived in Singapore for seven years and having traveled a lot in Southeast Asia, Jauch had not discovered much about China.

Jauch found that the area around the Pearl River Delta in China was quite similar to Singapore, particularly in terms of climate, infrastructure, and business environment. Jauch was impressed by the Pearl River Delta's growing potential for business – an environment with abundant capital and an inclusive culture – so Jauch decided that Guangzhou and Hong Kong would be the best places to look for jobs in the field of scientific research.

In 2013, Jauch finally made the decision to join Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health (GIBH) after declining offers from Sweden, Canada and South Korea. He formed an international research team of 12 members including doctoral candidates, technicians and post-doctoral researchers, 60 percent of whom had experience of working or studying overseas.

"The decision was prompted by my adventurous nature and desire to learn something new," Jauch said. He confessed that he came to Guangzhou with the hope of finding a unique way to facilitate his development in the science field.

"The research work at the GIBH is quite familiar to me, and also tallies with my personal interest. There is complete infrastructure and ample funding in place, and the scientists from Western countries among its faculty have already carried out fruitful research work. All these factors combined made me decide to work here," Jauch said.

Fruitful results

Jauch got his bachelor's degree in biology from Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, and his doctorate in molecular and structural biology from the Max Planck Institute. Jauch also has experience in the areas of genomics, stem cell biology, and computational biology.

"Gene banks can help us decode genomes," Jauch explained, talking about his work. "Life processes like embryonic development, human evolution, and genetic disease are actually manifestations of when and where genes play or stop playing their roles and influence each other. Our goal is to decode these processes. We pay particular attention to key proteins that we term 'transcription factors', which can decode these processes. I think if we can better understand these processes we would be able to produce some cells, which then can be used in biopharming."

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