When Rong Lu, PhD, joined the University of California as an assistant professor of stem cell biology and regenerative medicine in 2014, she knew that earning tenure would figuratively require blood, sweat and tears. But after becoming a mother, she ended up literally supplying her children’s cord blood to her lab to study how individual stem cells work together to maintain a healthy blood supply and immune system and how to improve bone marrow transplantation for patients with cancer and other diseases.

Lu approaches her work as a labor of love and doesn’t take for granted the opportunity to pursue her chosen career. Her parents grew up during China’s Cultural Revolution, which cut off their educations after primary school and prevented her mother from pursuing her dream of becoming a doctor. Her parents were sent to work for a government-run petrol oil factory in the town of Liaohua northeast China, where Lu was born and raised.

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