DPhil Medical Sciences
Spencer Tong is a third year DPhil student reading Medical Sciences at Green Templeton College. He holds the Oxford-Sir David Weatherall Scholarship and conducts clinical genetics research at the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine.
Under the supervision of Anne Goriely, Associate Professor of Human Genetics, Spencer is focused on understanding why older fathers sire a higher incidence of children with congenital disorders than younger men. His research has revealed that a previously unimplicated, fundamental pathway (known as TGF-B) mutates and dysregulates as all men age thus leading to an increased risk over time. As he continues to validate and build on his findings, he’s steadily preparing for his upcoming Confirmation of Status and eventual DPhil Viva.
When Spencer isn’t garbed in a lab coat and armed with a pipette, he’s often found enjoying the 5-star cuisine in the GTC dining hall or at the Iffley Sports Centre playing for the Men’s Blues Volleyball team. He notes, particularly pleased, that the squad was victorious at the 50th Varsity Match over Cambridge just a couple of weeks prior to the first lockdown in March 2020.
Work-life balance is certainly easier to achieve prior to the COVID-19 pandemic; when one’s office is mere feet from one’s bed, it’s been easy for graduate students to feel like the DPhil is taking over both work and home life. For Spencer, he’s made sure to carve out time to enjoy the college tennis courts and go on many walks through University Parks and Port Meadow.
Although the stress of navigating a pandemic amidst the stress of a DPhil had been unanticipated, Spencer is quick to express his gratitude towards the Green Templeton Community: “Thanks to the generosity of our donors in establishing the Weatherall Scholarship and others like it, I’ve been able to continue my studies without the burden of financial worry.” He also notes that GTC’s Hardship Fund, which all affected students have been encouraged to explore, has been a general salve for the student body’s uncertainty and unrest. Spencer’s looking forward to the next set of events and college formal dinners where he can catch up with the wider GTC community.