300: How My Mom Discovered A Cure For A Rare Disease

300: How To Cure A Rare Disease With My Mom Janice Chou

Whenever I publish 100 episodes, I always have an extra special guest on the show. And today, I have my Mom, Janice Chou, on the show.

Now my Mom is not an entrepreneur in the classical sense but she recently discovered a cure for a rare disease called Glycogen Storage Disease.

It is her life’s work and her cure is currently undergoing clinical trials. So far, the trial is going extremely well and her treatment has cured 9 patients so far. Here’s her story.

What You’ll Learn

  • How my Mom had to leave everything behind to start over in Taiwan
  • How she discovered a cure for a rare disease called Glycogen Storage Disease
  • Why biological research is like entrepreneurship
  • How to get started as a molecular biologist
  • Embarrassing stories of my youth

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

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Transcript

Steve: You’re listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast the place where I bring on successful bootstrap business owners and delve deeply into the strategies they use to grow their businesses. Now, this is episode 300 and as you know, whenever I publish a hundred episodes, I always have an extra special guest on the show and this is no exception. Today, I have my mom Janice Chou on the show and my mom is not an entrepreneur in the classical sense, but she recently discovered a cure for a rare disease called glycogen storage disease. Now if you don’t believe that finding cures for diseases involve elements of Entrepreneurship, then you won’t want to miss this one.

But before we begin I want to give a quick shout-out to Privy who’s a sponsor of the show. Privy is a tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store and right now I’m using Privy Display a cool Wheel of Fortune pop-up basically user gives their email for a chance to win valuable prizes in our store and customers love the gamification aspect of this and when I implemented this form email signups increased by a hundred thirty one percent Privy also offers a low-cost email solution for e-commerce Merchants. So if all you need are the basic email autoresponder sequences, like abandoned cart went back campaigns pre and post purchase flows. Then Privy might be an ideal solution for you. So bottom line, Privy allows you to turn the visitors into email subscribers and recover lost sales. So head on over to privy.com/steve and try it for free if you decide you need to the more advanced features use coupon code MWQHJ for fifteen percent off once again that’s privy.com/steve.

I also want to thank Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode. Klaviyo helps brands build relationships across any distance delivering email marketing moments. Your customers will appreciate, remember and share in good times and bad. And since it is all driven by real-time e-commerce data, you can make sure every interaction feels more personal. Now when you have a 360 degree view of the customer the growth possibilities are endless. So visit klaviyo.com/mywife and try for free. That’s KLAVIYO.com/mywife. Now on to the show.

Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle so can spend more time with your family focus on doing the things that you love. Here’s your host Steve Chou.

Steve: Welcome to the my wife quit her job podcast. Today, I have an extra extra extra special guest on the show. It is someone who I’ve literally known all my life and while she’s not technically an entrepreneur in the classical sense. She has accomplished something incredibly special that no one else I know has ever done and in case you were wondering today’s podcast guest is my mom. Her name is Janice Chou, but I’m going to call her mom in this interview because who calls their mom by their first name. Anyway, my mom is a molecular biologist at the National Institutes of Health and in fact, As a kid, I remember hanging out in her lab while she worked. I also played with dry ice and liquid nitrogen when I was in elementary school.

Anyway, my mom recently discovered a cure for a rare disease called glycogen storage disease and it is her life’s work and her cure is currently undergoing clinical trials right now. And so far the trial is going extremely well and her treatment has cured nine patients so far. Now in any case in today’s interview, we’re going to talk about my mom’s background and how she managed to develop this cure and how she became the foremost expert on this disease and welcome to podcast Mom. How are you doing today?

Janice: I’m very well. Thank you for interviewing me

Steve: So first of all, my mom is sitting next to me right now and she spent a good portion of time this morning doing her hair for this interview and I may have neglected to tell her that this was not a video interview. But okay, Mom, let’s start with your background story. I know that you were born in China, but then you had to flee to Taiwan during the Communist Revolution and I remember you telling me that you had to leave all of your wealth behind so How did you end up studying biochemistry of all things?

Janice: Well, I went to Taiwan, when we flee from Shanghai to Taiwan. And we basically bring nothing but my father is in the government. So he has a job, So eventually we can all go to, we are middle-class family so we can go to college by the end and I attended elementary school, junior high, high-school in Taiwan and then go to, I went to Taiwan University that time my major was Pharmacy after getting a pharmacy degree in Taiwan. There’s no graduate school is very hard to find a job. So we decided to go to graduate study in America and that time.

Steve: So let’s back up a little bit. So when did you know that you wanted to do biology?

Janice: Well in college, I was good in math. And chemistry, biology. I’m very bad in literature, composition and history. My memory is good. But I am very bad in those topics. So I decided I like chemistry, biology so become like a biologist

Steve: I know in, I don’t know if this is still true but in Taiwan like depending on how your test scores are done, do they kind of naturally group you?

Janice: Yeah well in high school you have A class or B to go to, Science or Humanity, since I’m not good in humanity. I choose science and like we have seven class each class have Forte if we are very good. You don’t have to take entrance exam to go to college. I’m one of them, so from high school to college. I was lucky enough not, do not have to take entrance, the record with Taiwan University. One of the best University in Taiwan.

Steve: I’m just curious were there a lot of women in science back then or were you like one of the very few?

Janice: I’m in the second girls high school. We have men go to boys or in boys school, or girls and girls who of course, there are mixed, boy and girl the best school are all for boys and girls only.

Steve: Okay

Janice: So science, I think many girls go to science, pharmacy is one of the department with many women

Steve: interesting. Okay. Now you told me growing up that you were good at everything but then recently you told my wife and I this story where you had to flip a coin to pass some exam, what was that all about?

Janice: No, no I was really young. I went from elementary to go to Junior High you have to take entrance exam, so I didn’t know I have to study so

Steve: How come you did not know you had to study?

Janice: because school is so easy. So I don’t really have to study but take entrance exam. I only read a few books and go to the exam. There are many truths or false questions, if I don’t know I just flip a coin. I got entered, to very good girl High School. Wow for the best Junior High.

Steve: So you flipped the coin and you got most of the questions, correct?

Janice: I guess.

Steve: Okay, let’s not talk about that, let’s not tell that story to our kids. Okay, so you studied biology in college

Janice: pharmacy school

Steve: pharmacy school. Okay. So how did you end up in America then?

Janice: Well, once you we graduate, there’s no graduate school in Taiwan, if you want get an advanced degree, you have to go aboard so I decided to go to America. Most college student at my time go to America. So actually, how I ended up in University of Utah is very interesting. I look in an American map. I said the biggest State, I want to go, I’ve put a pen, don’t it’s Utah. So I apply get the fellowship went to University of Utah.

Steve: That’s the only reason why you chose Utah?

Janice: Yep. I don’t even know Utah. I thought I don’t want to go to Harvard, it’s probably too difficult for me. And I want to choose a bigger state in America. I didn’t study America very carefully. So I choose Utah.

Steve: Why did you feel like you need an advanced degree? Like couldn’t you just become a pharmacist in Taiwan?

Janice: Well in Taiwan mostly from Taiwanese, they are most the pharmacy and Medicine controlled by Taiwanese. I’m from mainland China. So I decided I don’t really want to be a pharmacist. I like to get an advanced degree. So I can do research.

Steve: Okay, so just kind of an aside. Is that where you met my dad?

Janice: Yeah in graduate school. I think I went first time. Yeah. I met my husband in University of Utah. He’s electric engineer major. So we met in the library and so he took me home. He has a 1950 car took me home from that time. We start dating.

Steve: And okay, so let’s kind of move on towards your research now. So you started studying at University of Utah and you got your PhD, right?

Janice: Yes. I got to my PhD, biochemistry

Steve: Biochemistry and I remember a long time ago. You told me you were thinking about getting your MD, but you decided not to get it. Why did you

Janice: in Taiwan at least want to get either MD or a pharmacy degree. I thought that time MD takes seven years. I’ll be too old and never dream I went to graduate school another four years to get my PhD.

Steve: Okay, so you got your PhD and then and then what next?

Janice: Okay that time. My husband got the job in Maryland. He graduated a year before me. So I just go with him to Maryland to see the environment and my professor. Dr. Dickman said, oh, I know somebody in IH, do you want to meet him maybe when you graduate you can get a job there get a postdoc there. So once I was in Maryland so called and IH, the doctor name’s Leon Hypo and when I called they said “oh, he left long ago” I said, can I speak to somebody in that department and one of the doctors?

Okay, you come anyway, and I don’t really need a postdoc, but you can visit there. So I went to visit I talked to him and he said I don’t have A job but I can introduce you to somebody else in my department. So I met Dr. Maxine Singer who was my first supervisor. So I talked to her and I talked to another few doctors when I went back to Utah. A letter of acceptance already on my desk. She has accepted me as a postdoc

Steve: and were you studying this disease already or no?

Janice: No, no.

Steve: No. not at all. Okay.

Janice: Yeah, she’s a very good Molecular biology bac chemist. So I learn about chemistry in her lab a lot. Then I did another post doc with dr. Martin and I learn virologist. So I become a virologist that time, after six years of postdoctoral training. I think I need to be independent. So I looking at a nice and IH for a job and I got to be a Unit head at a nice

Steve: so you skipped a lot of steps, how does a female scientist become a unit head? Is it just something you apply for and

Janice: I applied for it. I did six year postdoc and I have very good Publications.

Steve: Okay.

Janice: Yeah. So

Steve: so as a unit head you can research whatever you want?

Janice: So I, that time my research was presented Gene regulation and how I become permanent. I can tell you a story on how I become permanent. And that time I just become a section unit head which is not permanent it’s temporary and I need a permanent job and Georgetown University looking for a women virologist. So I went to interview I got a job right away. So my boss at IH has to offer me a permanent job because I was offered another job at the time. So I become the first unit head to become permanent in 1983

Steve: Wow in all IH?

Janice: No, no. That section.

Steve: Oh that section. Okay

Janice: Yeah, that department

Steve: had no intention of taking the Georgetown job.

Janice: No.

Steve: No, it is very clever. All right. So how did you stumble upon glycogen storage disease?

Janice: Okay. I always study then I switch to liver Gene regulation. The many of the gene has been isolated and characterized and we were looking for a some differentially expressed genes in an animal model.

Steve: That means nothing to me.

Janice: Okay, we’re wanting to express in one condition not the other Condition. It’s called a mouse is like hypoglycemia.

Steve: Does this have anything to do with glycogen storage disease?

Janice: No, but Yeah, so we isolate a bunch of genes and so we just sequence and characterize changing one of the gene. The many many liver gene has been isolated, characterize.

Steve: What does it mean to isolate and characterize a gene?

Janice: Your body is encoded by a lot of genes each one at that time in the 90s. You have to be, each one has to sequence and characterize what protein that encode.

Steve: Okay. So this is that I remember studying this in high school. This is these are the sequences of

Janice: nucleic acids, DNA and then translate to mri then go to a protein

Steve: okay to advance for this audience. But okay. Yeah go on

Janice: so many many of gene liver has been cloned isolated.

Steve: Why did you choose the liver? Like is this just something you already

Janice: I’m interested.

Steve: Okay

Janice: Yeah, and one of letting never being isolated is glycogen storage disease type one thing which is glucose 6-phosphate taste. That one was causing glycogen storage disease was known for many many years, but the Gene can never, protein can never isolate it because they believe it’s very fast soluble never can dissolve in water. So you cannot sequence you cannot characterize.

Steve: So let’s back up a little bit. What exactly is glycogen storage disease like what is what are the symptoms?

Janice: Okay, the patients can now suffer fast. So you eat three meals a day in between meals if you are hungry. You have your storage of, your body have storage of glycogen. Glycogen can convert to glucose so you will be happy

Steve: so glycogen is like a storage of energy that we can use later. Okay

Janice: Yes, but for this disease, glycogen decomposed cannot decomposed to Sugar instead go to the glucose 6 phosphate. That’s the compound before sugar.

Steve: Alright, so basically person with this Disease cannot synthesize glycogen into energy right?

Janice: no, cannot convert glycogen into glucose.

Steve: glucose which is energy, right?

Janice: Right

Steve: Okay. Got it. Okay. And so what ends up happening is they don’t have this store. They can’t access this to store energy

Janice: then they get hypoglycemia get seizures and if they do not take care of right away. They can die.

Steve: Okay

Janice: right.

Steve: All right, and how many people does this affect because I’m sure people in the audience

Janice: 1 hundred thousand. It’s very rare.

Steve: Is that considered rare because there’s billions of people in this world. So that means

Janice: Yep. It is rare disease.

Steve: Okay. All right, so–okay so people know what the disease now is did you sequence

Janice: So we look for the several of the genes we characterize we found one is very fat soluble we call hydrophobic. Okay, then we thought maybe this Gene can be the gene and code glucose-6-phosphatase

Steve: which is the cause

Janice: the gene deficient in glycogen storage type one.

Steve: Okay. So let me just summarize everything you just said so people with the disease are missing this Gene.

Janice: Yes

Steve: and you’re calling this Gene the glucose-6-phosphate gene. That is resting.

Janice: Yes right

Steve: and so I didn’t understand the other parts, but you thought that you’d be able to isolate this Gene

Janice: We isolated already, several gene. We sequence and looking the property of the protein and they encode looking one of the gene looks very similar to the predicted glucose-6-phosphatase.

Steve: Okay

Janice: Should be very fat soluble cannot be purified cannot be soluble in water. So we decided maybe this is the gene. So we set up the assay for the assay for the enzyme

Steve: assays an examination

Janice: tear, the function of the protein. so we set up how to test the function of the protein. The protein function actually very simple hydrolyzed glucose-6-phosphate to glucose as simple as I say people have done it for ages.

Steve: Okay.

Janice: So people can use to the liver assays and assays so they know the patient lacking this enzyme before they take liver biopsy. Then I say, oh you’re missing this enzyme

Steve: okay. So, let me just summarize everything you just said. So basically the patient is missing this enzyme and that’s how you can tell you have this disease.

Janice: Yes

Steve: very easily detectable.

Janice: You have to take a liver sample.

Steve: Yeah. Okay, right. All right. So how did you

Janice: so we just set up the in vitro assay,

Steve: No one knows what a vitro assay is

Janice: it’s not it’s just assay. It’s not that hard. For enzyme activity,

Steve: Okay, okay

Janice: so we found that this particular clone this gene indeed behave like the protein translated behave like glucose 6 phosphate

Steve: okay.

Janice: They can hydrolyze glucose-6-phosphate to glucose

Steve: So you just so you

Janice: in a test tube.

Steve: has to be isolated this Gene and no one had ever done that?

Janice: no one has done that.

Steve: Okay. So how does that lead to a cure? Exactly?

Janice: Okay, then immediately we clone the gene because for 50 years. Nobody can clone a gene. So we immediately At that time my boss was Sid Barry who is our scientific director at NIH who is happened to be the one working on glycogen storage disease type 1. So I went to him. He has patients. He immediately get a DNA get the blood from the patient. So I analyzed his gene see whether this patient have mutation energy. Indeed, he has the mutation. So we demonstrate the gene we clone. Indeed, It’s a gene missing in patients with glycogen storage disease.

Steve: I see, I’m just kind of curious like we’re talking about this right now as if it was quick and easy, like how many years does that did the whole process take?

Janice: Actually it’s very quick. We simply isolate a bunch of genes which are expressed in one condition or the other never intended to clone glucose 6-phosphate. Is it just happened to be, we are

Steve: You discovered by accident?

Janice: discover by accident and very lucky. We make the right decision when we looked at the gene, the protein could be glucose-6-phosphate. We immediately set up a li assay the whole system becoming very easy there happened to be my boss has the patient right at NIH so I can get the DNA and sequence his gene.

Steve: So, okay, so we at this point you’ve confirmed with Actual patients what is and this this might go beyond my comprehension, but what is actually involved in creating the actual killer? Like how do you treat it? So, you know that this Gene is missing. How do you get the gene in that person?

Janice: from the discover of the DC CH 2 actually cured to discover the drug to cure disease. It takes a long time.

Steve: Okay. So would you say that’s been the majority of

Janice: my, ever since I discovered the gene I’m working on glycogen storages I didn’t do anything else but the glycogen storage

Steve: right because okay. So why does the actual cure take so long compared to the actual

Janice: because we don’t know how to cure and the gene was cloned in 1993 and that time people start doing thinking of doing gene therapy means put the good gene into the patient who has a bad Gene. And in the beginning people actually choose how to deliver the gene to the patient’s the many different method. I was interested in viral Vector because it was trending virology.

Steve: Okay, so just to and we talked about this prior to this interview so I could dumb it down for the audience. But basically the way it’s delivered and correct me if I’m wrong is you literally put this gene into a virus that isn’t harmful

Janice: right

Steve: And you jnject it into someone in that for some reason allows this Gene to

Janice: to get into the tissue and function produce the correct protein

Steve: right produce in this in this case. It’s the enzyme right that breaks down that chemical into energy

Janice: Right, right

Steve: who came up with that?

Janice: Not me. Yeah. Okay, you can deliver the gene, a lot of therapy people would simply deliver the protein directly to the patient but for glucose 6-phosphate it is very fast subulate cannot solubilize. Nobody can isolate a functional glucose 6 phosphatase. So we know enzyme replacement therapy definitely not right.

Steve: So, what you’re saying here is you can’t just inject this enzyme

Janice: I cannot

Steve: because it gets absorbed

Janice: Nobody can purify it in there. Okay. I still cannot purify, I cloned the gene but I still cannot purify

Steve: the only way to cure disease

Janice: is the liver gene

Steve: Just kinda curious regarding this disease you mentioned that people can’t process energy. So people is disease do they pass right away or how did they treat it right now without the cure?

Janice: okay, before we cloned the gene Thomas Kingsford is the one who discovered a dietary therapy cornstarch therapy, the patient can take raw corn starch because corn starch slow digestion become glucose. So the patient without eating food at night, for example. They can last four to six hours without eating because they take corn starch usually four to six hours. So patient in general at night has to be wake up at least once to take additional cornstarch. So they will survive ever since cornstarch therapy discovered. They survived pretty well can too and they go to college even so

Steve: basically you have to take corn starch every four to six hours. It’s like a drug

Steve: Like a drug, yeah

Steve: Okay. Yeah and okay. So tell me about the process of the clinical trial like how does that work? So you have a potential cure that you’ve cured in a mouse?

Janice: So we decide to use different viral Vector. So there were adenovirus Vector turn out to be very toxic. So then the other vectors adeno-associated virus Vector which developed by many scientists,

Steve: So when you say virus Vector you mean like The different inert viruses that you attach this gene on

Janice: this is the active virus.

Steve: Yeah. Okay,

Janice: right. So it is not develop by my me but developed by scientists in the viral field and I just use one of them and what my contributions is, how to get a vector expressed glucose-6-phosphatase gene into high efficacy.

Steve: Basically efficacy means it works right?

Janice: Yes it works, right. Yeah.

Steve: Why do you guys use such big words when you can just say it works

Janice: Efficacy, really?

Steve: no one talk. No one uses the word efficacy.

Janice: Ah Okay.

Steve: Anyways, okay, so okay. So you tried this in a mouse first, right?

Janice: I tried in a mouse and we cured the mouse. The mouse you give newborn infusion and they survive to 70-80 weeks. So we cured so

Steve: so Mouse is a lot different than a human though. So uhm

Janice: well, I but many of the commercial company because the adeno-associated virus immediate gene therapy being discovered being used for other disease and so many commercial company. They already know that this non-toxic can deliver a gene can last in human probably four to five years. So they approached us to let license my Vector so they set up, set up the clinical trial

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Steve: So what is the process of a clinical trial? I don’t even know. Okay, so you have this cure. Do you know how the process works?

Janice: Well, the company put out set up a crater a collaboration with an NIH with test for preclinical trial method so we can get FDA to approve. So

Steve: How does this administered? is it just like injected in the

Janice: it’s just injected into the bloodstream. Okay, because the liver, when you do blood infusion most vector of the gene, everything, 90% go to the liver. So liver is the one very easy to be cured by gene therapy.

Steve: I see

Janice: So like this, the FDA approved in 2018. They start clinical trial in June 2018. So phase one to clean the whole trial they have initials 12 patients. So right now I believe there for eight or nine already tried. The outcome most of the, many of the patient no longer need corn starch. They can sleep overnight.

Steve: Wow, nice

Janice: but we do not know how long will it last, yet. So it’s the only in the first year

Steve: I see I see and then but right now is this commercially available or no?

Janice: No, it’s face ½

Steve: Phase 1/2, Okay, and it’s only until phase 3 that

Janice: yeah, they may want to skip phase 1/2 if everything work well, because the company not me, wants to set up my test center test. So they hope to get into clinical trials

Steve: everyone with this disease would want to try this, right?

Janice: Yes. The problem also is you know, they have immune response to the vector even that Vector is not toxic.

Steve: I see okay

Janice: so, so far, I think eight patient responds well

Steve: I see I know you never did this for the money and this is your life’s work here. But just how valuable is this research and what are like some of the business terms. Do you know? Like

Janice: well, what if the drug works? They, we have, NIH have royalties and I should have whatever royalty belongs to me, the drug belongs to NIH not me.

Steve: sure of course, of course, right. But how much does this treatment cost? Do you know?

Janice: we don’t know.

Steve: Okay, are we talking like thousands, millions?

Janice: No, that’s there’s I was told one of the clinical trial for one of the disease is 1 million per dose.

Steve: Wow. Yeah. How many doses do you need to cure?

Janice: one dose.

Steve: Oh, just one dose.

Janice: Oh, yeah.

Steve: Okay, so a million and I mean it’s worth it to not have to eat corn starch every 4 – 6 hours before this.

Janice: Yes. Yes,

Steve: so I’m kind of curious this all these private companies out there doing research. Why hasn’t any private company tackled your disease.

Janice: That’s a private company, Ultragen is a private company.

Steve: Okay. Okay. Okay.

Janice: Okay, to be honest. They’re very, there are many rare disease developed can be cured by gene therapy. Why many company now seeking to me for glucose-6-phosphatase because it is very easy to follow whether your disease is corrected or not. Take one blood, see your glucose level. That’s the reason it’s

Steve: So your disease is very straight forward

Janice: Yes very easy to follow. Yes

Steve: meaning like it’s easy to test for which is a simple blood test and it’s just a single Gene

Janice: single gene

Steve: and okay, and then the way it’s delivered is simple too because it goes to the liver. Yes, the liver related to disease

Janice: yes. That’s what among so many rare diseases. They choose my disease.

Steve: I see I see and then from that they can expand it to more complicated diseases.

Janice: Yeah, Yes.

Steve: Do you know whether your methods have been expanded to any other disease cures so far?

Janice: I’m an odd one development method they already start Factor 10 for example, but they already succeeded in gene therapy. And so my disease is just one of the follow-up and when they seeking to looking for glucose 6-phosphate it’s fairly rare disease because easy to detect easy-to-follow

Steve: right and then this whole thing from just you telling me a story which I’ve never heard before it just was kind of fortuitous that Patients were there you had access to the patients you could do these quick tests to see what this Gene was missing and it’s only one gene. Do most diseases have more than one gene missing?

Janice: they have mitogen family. So far gene therapy work, mostly single gene. Yeah

Steve: Gene single. Wow. So going forward. Are there a lot of these diseases that are just single Gene?

Janice: Yes

Steve: Oh really? Okay

Janice: many of the gene, but many of you have to be easy, to be delivered. liver is gene is one of the easy to deliver gene

Steve: I see

Janice: and for, a lot of DC affect the brand, it’s very hard to pass the blood-brain barrier to deliver the gene. Yeah

Steve: I see Okay. So this is kind of like a very specialized, at least today.

Janice: Yes.

Steve: So if anyone out there is interested in curing diseases. How would you recommend that they proceed today? Like let’s say someone’s in college, right now and they want to do what you do. What is the recommended path?

Janice: Well at first you have to study you follow your interest and follow your talent. So and sometimes you have to be lucky you have to be in the right place the right time.

Steve: So if I’m in college right now, do you recommend I study biochemistry. Do you recommend I follow your path and work at NIH or like you obviously need money to do this, right? You can’t do this on your own.

Janice: No research is very expensive, but if you go to college you can get Grant. It’s the same thing if you are good. Okay, when what I recommend most people working in my lab focus, focus is very important don’t attack ten different projects focus on one or two. Also do not only do one. You do one or two projects and focus and concentrate, start a very hard and try to set up all the region.

For example, glucose-6-phosphatase, 80% reagent developing my lab. I’m very focused, I cloned the gene and make the mouse model and make antibody which the antibody to detect the enzyme. The one works only in my lab, commercial one doesn’t work either.

Steve: I see

Janice: so you have to be focused and work harder. You don’t have to work super hard, but you cannot just touch 10 different things. Nothing works

Steve: Okay, and then when you became a unit head you decide you want to go out on your own. How did you come to that conclusion?

Janice: I like tov everybody in their career, they want to be independent Right?

Steve: Is that true? That’s not always true. But could you have not been independent for your entire career if you chose? I mean it’s kind of like starting a business in a way. What you did is what I’m getting at here right? You could have just worked for in someone else’s lab doing someone else’s research for

Janice: if you, you have your own idea. You want a company, what you think you want to do and you have to be independent. I always have idea what I want to do. I don’t want to follow people around.

Steve: right.

Janice: So I want to have my own lab.

Steve: And so what’s the best way for someone to get their own lab?

Janice: You have to know what do you want, focus on a thing, develop a thing, become an expert then people seeking you instead of that you have to apply

Steve: were you already an expert when NIH gave you a lab?

Janice: I think I was pretty good. I percentage in regulation already

Steve: Okay, so back when you’re a postdoc. You already developed

Janice: I have some very productive, in my to postdoc, the first post that I published eight good papers, which is very rare

Steve: I see. I remember when I was growing up you told me never to go into your field

Janice: and fortunately I say research scientists nowadays, it’s not easy to get a job. And there’s so many people working on biology major in biology in college is one of the problem major topics, right? and the research position because this is so expensive to do research and you need to apply Grant and Grant before the percentage of people can get Grant become less and less.

That’s why I said if you really want you really really interesting in research. Maybe you should get MD degree then doing research. So you have alternative if you couldn’t find a permanent job, you can still practice medicine.

Steve: So what’s the difference between the private sector and the government, working for the government?

Janice: I never work on private sector, I think private sector. You probably have to work with or follow so many Direction, it’s difficult to be interest in what you do and only doing what you want to do.

Steve: So I want to kind of end this interview with the funny story in high school. I cannot come up with science fair project for the life of me. So you suggested that I do a project related to your research and my project that year was the effects of cyclic amp and retinoic acid on PSG gene expression to this day. I have no clue what that project was about and I remember my I remember you prepared me a cheat sheet on the back of my poster board.

Of all the possible questions I could get asked and when the judges came by I would just read off these answers and so my final question for you is like I don’t quite understand what you do, but do you actually understand what I do for a living now?

Janice: not really.

Steve: okay and this podcast do you understand how the money is made on the blog and the podcast and?

Janice: not exactly either.

Steve: Okay. So let me give you a quick lesson here then. So this podcast doesn’t actually make any money really there’s some sponsorships. But the money in there is Trivial, the podcast is there for me to meet people that that can you know help you we can help each other later on and it’s also a way for people to follow you like you have people that you follow right? And so people follow me on this podcast and by nature of following me. And then you know whenever I do release a product or a book or what not, people will buy it.

And so the main money makers are you know, people listened to my referrals and so whenever I refer something I get a cut of the business or I have my course where I’m actually teaching someone it’s like teaching a university class for example, and then of course, there’s advertising whenever someone’s listening to other companies can advertise on the behalf. So but you understand how the e-commerce store works?

Janice: That, I do.

Steve: that’s right. Yeah. Okay. Did you, this is the last question. Did you ever Envision that I end up doing this as opposed to engineering or?

Janice: totally not anticipated. I thought you were working as an engineer. Maybe you open a company like electrical engineer company never thought it would be doing this

Steve: and growing up. Did you foresee me? I say, I can’t remember back that far. But do you remember me being interested in these things growing up?

Janice: I am very bad in the New technology to be honest, so I have to say I don’t anticipate you having a business like you have now.

Steve: So in the event that there’s someone out there who wants to do what you have done as you so you already gave the advice to focus but in terms of studying it seems like college education is necessary, right?

Janice: Yes.

Steve: Okay. You can’t learn. stuff yourself go apply to a company and

Janice: okay. I think graduate school, actually is very important for you to learn how to do experiment. In my days in Taiwan. We don’t do very much experiments in college. So when I went to graduate school, I learned everything from the beginning maybe an American college. I think they have a lot of lab work it’s proper better training then I was in Taiwan in college.

But still you need graduate school learn how to do independent thinking, you cannot follow people everything follow your professor your never have your own idea. How can you become independent?

Steve: Sounds like there’s a theme here, you have to go out on your own which is one of the fundamental tenets of Entrepreneurship and it doesn’t matter in case my mom here. She’s worked for the government for what’s been 40 years?

Janice: 40 years

Steve: 40 years. Yes, but yet, you know, she’s still doing her own thing. She’s researching other diseases finding cures, entrepreneurship doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not working for someone else but it just means that you’re pursuing things that you want to be doing. So, I hope you enjoyed this interview with my Mom. Hey, thanks for coming on. I know you don’t normally do these things

Janice: No, this is my first interview.

Steve: Okay. Well, thank you.

Janice: Okay.

Steve: Hope you enjoyed that episode. And what can I say? I’m super proud of my Mom for everything that she has accomplished and when I compare myself as a purveyor of fine handkerchiefs to someone who has discovered a cure for a disease there really is no comparison, but I am glad that my mom finally kind of understands what I do for a living. For more information about this episode go to mywifequither job.com/episode300

And once again, I want to thank Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode, Klaviyo is my email marketing platform of choice for e-commerce Merchants. You can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence a post purchase flow or win back campaign. Basically, all these sequences that will make you money on autopilot. So head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/klaviyo. Once again, That’s mywifequitherjob.com/klaviyo.

I also want to thank Privy for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use the term visitors into email subscribers. They offer email capture exit intent and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. And I like Privy because it is so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop-ups for any parameter that is closely tied your eCommerce store. Now, if you want to give it a try it is free so head on over to privy.com/steve. Once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/steve.

Now I talked about how I use these tools in my blog and if you’re interested in starting your own e-commerce store heading over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six day mini-course just type in your email and I’ll send you the course right away. Thanks for listening.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast where we are giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information visit Steve’s blog at www.mywifequitherjob.com

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2 thoughts on “300: How My Mom Discovered A Cure For A Rare Disease”

  1. Leslie says:

    Wow, your mom is brilliant! Very encouraging to hear the story of her hard work, perseverance, and persistence in following through on what she desired to discover. I especially appreciated the example she set in not always following, but going out on her own to go after what she wanted to achieve.

  2. Patrice Rogers says:

    I just listened to your 300th episode featuring your brilliant mom. I can’t believe she discovered a cure for GSD! In my former life as a school Principal I had two sisters who suffered from GSD. I sent them and their family this podcast and they said they have met your mom and raise money to help fund her research. Small world! Similar to your mom, you are also giving back to all of us by sharing your wisdom and experience so transparently. Thank you to you and your mom for sharing your knowledge and expertise with the world!

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