Euphemia Mu '09, alumna

Euphemia Mu ’09 is merging her studies in medicine with her knowledge of Chinese language, culture and medicine—interests that were fostered during her undergraduate years.

Raised in Charlotte, N.C., she grew up speaking Chinese at home, but never learned how to write in her parents’ native tongue. At Princeton, she enrolled in an intensive Chinese course that met every day of the week, not only to learn the mechanics of the language, but to discuss current events and cultural issues in China.

It was a lot of work, Mu says, but the most rewarding part came at the end of the semester when the final assignment was to write a letter home. “When I sat down to write, it was so easy,” says Mu, and her parents were so proud.

More recently, while attending medical school at Johns Hopkins University, she spent a month in China as a medical volunteer in Guangzhou, Kunming and Changzi, which gave her an opportunity to observe the tensions between the practice of Western medicine and traditional Chinese medicine. She also served as the Chinese-English translator at an international conference for oncologists from Shanghai’s Fudan University. The conference was hosted by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Topics covered at the oncology conference were not altogether unfamiliar to Mu. As an undergraduate, she completed her thesis on the role and regulation of the VCAM-1 gene, which is associated with breast cancer metastasis. She published a paper analyzing metabolomic changes in breast cancer metastasis in a mouse model in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

In medical school, she is studying the use of sentinel lymph node biopsy in pediatric melanoma and examining the role of photodamage in causing rosacea, a skin disease of the face.

As was her habit at Princeton—where she worked on the independent student newspaper and volunteered in a food pantry—Mu is leading a busy extracurricular life in medical school. She has served as treasurer of Taussig College, one of the four colleges at Hopkins’ School of Medicine; as president of the Asian Pacific American Medical student Association and chair of the association’s national conference, which was attended by 400 student and physician leaders; as a medical student representative; and as a peer advisor. She also volunteers each week with Science in the City to conduct biology and chemistry experiments with inner-city Baltimore elementary school students.

Ask Mu today for thoughts on her Princeton experience and the response is simply, "I loved it!" Like other students, she took full advantage of the myriad opportunities Princeton offers to learn from brilliant and celebrated professors, explore her interests, develop new ones and express herself. She says one of the most distinctive qualities of a Princeton education is its undergraduate focus, whereby even world-renowned faculty members teach entry-level courses. As an example, she remembers that President Shirley Tilghman, a leading molecular biologist who taught for 15 years at Princeton before becoming the University’s 19th president, gave four guest lectures in the course.

Mu’s life goal, she says, is to help build research partnerships and international collaborations between American and Chinese physician-scientists.