Ma soon obtained a Ph.D. in immunology in 1998 from the Peking Union Medical College and Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences. She then received an invitation from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute of Harvard Medical School researching the immunology of tumors:
“My job was gene cloning of a novel protein which was expressed more abundantly in a B lymphoma cell line. Using an IgM antibody that was specially developed in our lab, the lymphoma cell line undergoes a unique cell death that is different from programmed cell death. The antibody crosslinks the antigens, leading the lymphoma cell line to swell and lyse, which exhibits oncosis (a type of cell death). I successfully cloned the gene and we called it Porimin, which means pore inducing antigen. I also developed Porimin gene knockout mice whose porimin gene was deleted.”
After several years at Harvard, Ma moved to Indiana and temporarily changed her focus from work to home where raising three children became her full-time job. Six years later she was redirected to IU South Bend as an adjunct professor teaching the freshman chemistry course CHEM-C 102 which combines organic chemistry and biochemistry, mostly for nursing and dental hygiene majors. Ma enjoys teaching this course and is very excited to use her knowledge to help people again. She says that her biggest reward come from students when their eyes brighten by a sudden understanding of a topic and also from students who start to get interested in chemistry.
Our department is very thankful for Ma’s expertise, experience, and years of teaching. We hope she will continue to work at IU South Bend for many years to come to prepare our health-related students for their careers – and also to interest some of her students in a career in chemistry or biochemistry.