Hezhao Ji, Research that saves lives

Hezhao Ji is a scientist who works to understand and combat HIV/AIDS resistance, a critical research area with life-saving implications for people infected with HIV/AIDS. As a boy growing up in China, he always wanted to be a scientist, so for him, the work he does every day is a dream come true. 

Hezhao taught microbiology and immunology for seven years in China, before coming to Canada in 2002 to complete his PhD in medical microbiology and infectious diseases. In 2007, he started working as a research scientist for the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).

“Now I’m working in the national laboratory for HIV genetics, which is sort of a natural fit for me. I’m very happy to have the opportunity to continue my research career,” he says. “In my lab we do HIV drug resistance testing and we support research programs on HIV drug resistance.” 

During the COVID pandemic, Hezhao’s research has shifted to focus on SARS-COV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. His work on COVID-19 has been critical in helping to better understand the pandemic in Canada and how the virus evolves over time at a global level. His research serves all Canadians, and his work is an important part of the fight against HIV/AIDS and COVID-19.

“When you are infected with COVID, you want to know how effective a new drug may be, or how you can prevent new infections, how the virus changes over time, or how the vaccine is effective on new strains of the virus,” he says. “My research focus is relevant to those issues.” 

Hezhao is a scientist, but he is also a husband, a father and a hobbyist. In his spare time, he enjoys fishing, sports, badminton and small home renovations. These activities help him to relax and recharge outside of the lab.

Despite the demands of his work, Hezhao finds time for the things that matter to him. He is motivated by the difference his research can make in the lives of Canadians, and he is dedicated to his work as a scientist. 

As a PIPSC member, Hezhao finds comfort in the support PIPSC provides. He knows that the union is always fighting for fair collective agreements and an improved work environment. With the support of PIPSC, Hezhao can continue doing the life-saving work he was meant to do.

“I can see PIPSC is working hard to benefit our members. I believe that PIPSC is always there, helping us to get more scientific freedom, which is important for scientists.”

Hezhao is a strong advocate for science and believes that it is the key to solving many of the world’s problems. As we progress through the COVID-19 pandemic, Hezhao wants to stress the importance of science-based decision making.

“As a scientist, I hope the government will pay more attention to science, support science, and support science-based decision making,” he says.

He believes that science-based decision making will help us be better prepared for another pandemic in the future. Hezhao also believes that the government should invest more in science and technology. This will help us develop new ways to combat diseases and improve quality of life for Canadians.

He is most proud of how his work helps to progress the research area that he works in, and how it impacts his Canadian stakeholders. All of the work that Hezhao does serves Canadians in research and service. And PIPSC is here to defend the public science that we all count on.

“Being part of a union you feel safe … PIPSC is like our extended professional family,” he says.

We represent over 18,000 scientists, researchers and engineers just like Hezhao. Each of our members helps to protect Canadians in a unique way, whether it’s through supporting rail safety, or researching solutions for vaccines.

As our scientists, researchers and engineers work tirelessly to serve Canadians, we work to protect and defend them. Thanks to researchers like Hezhao, we are one step closer to living in a world without HIV/AIDS or COVID-19.