Joy Wu, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor of Medicine (Endocrinology)
Co-Director, Translational Investigator Program
Stanford University School of Medicine
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1) What does a typical day look like in your job?
My typical work day starts around 8am, after sending our daughters off to school. At work the only constant is that I spend one day a week in clinic, seeing patients with osteoporosis and metabolic bone disease. I also block off a morning each week for lab meetings and/or updates with each of my lab members. I’m always available for any issues or questions, but I try to check in with everyone in person at least once a week. The rest of my time is spent juggling the various tasks of an academic physician-scientist. I try to devote the bulk of my time to writing grants and manuscripts, but there are also meetings, seminars, service, and clinical teaching.
My evenings usually involve the kids’ lessons, practice, or homework, and I exercise 3-4 times a week at the gym or running. After dinner I spend an hour or two catching up on email or other work. I like to read a little for fun every night before going to sleep, but sometimes I only last a page!
2) What is your favorite aspect of your job?
The environment of curiosity and learning. I love discussing data and experiment ideas with my lab members, hearing about the latest research, thinking about new avenues of investigation, and working through patient cases with my colleagues and clinical fellows.
3) What is the most challenging aspect?
Finding sustained time for things that require concentration, like writing grants to stay funded.
4) What led you to this career choice?
I had always wanted to go into medicine, then in college I worked in a lab for two years and loved the research and lab camaraderie. Going out for ice cream with my labmates on Friday afternoons probably helped too! When I learned that there are combined MD/PhD programs, I knew that was what I wanted to do. For me being a physician-scientist combines the immediate satisfaction of caring for patients with the intellectual freedom and delayed gratification of doing research.
5) What do you know now that you wish you knew as an early-stage investigator?
I had public speaking training early on that has proved immensely helpful in my career. But I wish I’d known just how much writing there would be (not just grants and manuscripts, but reference letters, reviews, clinic notes, emails, etc), and sought out training in good writing as well. As scientists and physicians we can be guilty of writing in obscure language. Recently I’ve taken a grant-writing class that focuses on writing with clarity, and that has really changed how I approach everything I write.