Dr. Zhiyi MA

Position:  Associate chief physician

Affiliation:  Beijing Tsinghua Changgung Hospital

What is your role at your work?

As a cardiologist in a hospital with medical education, to be an attending doctor for my patients is the main part of my work. At the same time, I am the teaching director of our cardiology department. And my own research work is mainly focused on hypertension.

How did you get interested in your career path?

My master and medicine doctor degree supervisor, Prof. Ningling SUN who is also an ISH member from Peking University People’s Hospital, opened the door of hypertension research for me. From population study, clinical evaluation and intervention methods and basic research, her enthusiasm on hypertension and her care for hypertension patients influenced me. I found that there were so many meaningful things we could do for such many hypertension patients.

What are you most proud of in your career or otherwise?

During the first decade in hypertension research group in Peking University People’s Hospital, I learned much from my supervisor and colleagues and participated in several researches on salt and hypertension. A new theory on “oral salt tolerance” and related novel “Oral Salt Tolerance Test, OSTT” gradually formed in my mind.

I’m most proud that I had the chance to present my abstract “A new Oral Salt Tolerance Test has acceptable consistency for its first volunteer” AHA Council on Hypertension, AHA Council on the Kidney in Cardiovascular Disease and ASH Joint Hypertension 2018 Scientific Sessions and unexpectedly acquired “2018 AFHRE Travel Award for Patient-Oriented or Clinical Research in Hypertension, American Heart Association’s Council on Hypertension” which mainly encouraged clinical related innovations.

This encouraged me to continue my deep-thinking of this new salt related theory and do more research. By now, I further established a new definition of “Early Evening Elevated blood pressure, EEE”, which might be one of “blocks” along the new theory “chain”.

What important career challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?

After I obtained my PhD from Prof. Joseph TY WONG’s lab in Hongkong University of Science and Technology, I found it is hard to connect my PhD research with my future clinical research including basic study. My PhD supervisor, Prof. Joseph TY WONG, is interested in cell size control which is an important basic science question. Thus, my PhD research focused on cell size control and took dinoflagellate as model cell. Whatever, I dived into clinical work and hypertension research later and found that PhD and followed MD education gave me more ideological growth. My research experience in Hongkong helped me establish the view following time and even history.

Another challenge is what I meet now. My interested research on “Oral Salt Tolerance Test, OSTT” and its related theory might be just at the very beginning stage which possibly need several decades to be noticed or obtain clinical recognition. What I need to do now is to follow my heart and immerse myself in this area.

What advice would you give your younger self?

  • Believe yourself and don’t miss each sparkle in your mind.
  • Every person around you would influence you. Chat with them and absorb those inspiring and beneficial parts.

Highlight your most significant research contributions and publications (3-5) – if relevant to you.

1. Establish novel “Oral Salt Tolerance Test, OSTT” and elaborate its related new theory:
Review: Ma Z, Hummel SL, Sun N, Chen Y. From salt to hypertension, what is missed? J Clin Hypertens. 2021;1–9.
Poster presentation: Zhiyi MA, Yuanyuan CHEN, Zhechun ZENG, Ningling SUN. A new Oral Salt Tolerance Test has acceptable consistency for its first volunteer. (Poster of AHA & ASH Hypertension 2018 Scientific Sessions) Hypertension. 2018;72:AP402.

2. Propose the concept of “Early Evening Elevated blood pressure, EEE”, which might be one of the “blocks” along the OSTT related theory “chain”:
Oral presentation: Zhiyi MA, Yixin Zhao, Xining Lu, Fan Yang, Yuanyuan CHEN, Ningling SUN. A novel definition, early evening elevated blood pressure, has a high prevalence rate according to ambulatory blood pressure monitoring. Oral presentation on Joint meeting ESH-ISH 2021 on air, April 11-14.

3. Integrated thinking on the mechanism of hypertension: theoretical hypothesis of dose-effect relationship along the time dimension for mechanisms of hypertension on occurrence and development from the macro level
Opinion: Ma ZY. Initiating and secondary mechanisms of hypertension along the time course. Cardiol Plus 2021;6:21-2.

4. Partial contribution on membrane potential research with the background of cell size control
Article: Kwok ACM, Zhang F, Ma Z, Chan WS, Yu VC, Tsang JSH, Wong JTY. Functional responses between PMP3 small membrane proteins and membrane potential. Environ Microbiol. 2020 Apr 19. doi: 10.1111/1462-2920.15027. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 32307863.

Have you had any significant career mentors? If yes, please provide further details.

All my supervisors at different stages played another role which was my career mentor. Prof. Ningling SUN gave me precious guidance on career by her effort on hypertension research, our discussion on research and life. Prof. Joseph TY WONG provided me the whole picture of basic science career and Prof. Tingting HONG in Ceders-Sinai Medical Center where I finished my visiting scholar study gave me a chance to know how innovation was transformed back to clinical work. They attended my life or career at their right time and their own career helped establish my personal specific career.

How can we support the next generation of women scientists?

To protect the sparkles from their mind as a treasure.
To give more chance to express views.
To provide more committee opportunities to organize them.
To provide more research grants for them.