Kainan Wang's academic career from cancer researcher at McGill University to finance professor is a testament to the diverse and transformative paths that our alumni embark on. His story speaks on the value of versatile skills in the world of scientific research, which he skillfully transferred to the realm of finance
A Scientific Start
Kainan began his academic journey as a master's student at McGill University, delving into the intricate world of molecular biology. Under the supervision of Prof. Xiang-Jiao Yang, Ph.D., Kainan focused on the roles of YAP and TAZ proteins in the Hippo signaling pathway in cancer with the Molecular Oncology Group at the Royal Victoria Hospital, which was renamed to the Rosalind and Morris Goodman Cancer Research Center in 2008. Given that these proteins are instrumental in regulating cell proliferation, survival, and differentiation, his research was crucial in understanding cancer progression.
A Transition to Finance
After completing his studies at McGill University in 2008, Kainan embarked on an unexpected journey by pursuing a Ph.D. in finance at Washington State University. The shift from cancer research to the world of finance might seem unconventional, but Kainan's experiences at McGill University provided him with skills that transcended the boundaries of scientific research: “My time as a master’s student taught me how to design experiments, collect data, and compile reports, all of which are skills transferable across various disciplines. Additionally, meeting people from outside the medical research field led me to discover my interest in finance.”
Today, Kainan is a full professor in the Department of Finance at the University of Toledo. His focus in finance spans various areas, including asset pricing, investments, and corporate finance. He has a particular interest in studying trading behaviors across different investor categories.
From research lab to finance world
Kainan acknowledges that his experience as a cancer researcher instilled him with valuable skills that continue to serve him in his roles as a finance PI and university administrator. “The ability to work within a team and present research effectively were key skills developed during my time at McGill. These skills are crucial in my current roles, which requires frequent interactions and collaborations with others,” shares Kainan. He further emphasizes the importance of being an independent thinker in academia, capable of generating and executing research ideas. He encourages current GCI trainees to embrace opportunities that may lead them beyond their initial research interests. For him, these experiences have been fundamental in navigating the dynamic field of finance.
Current Challenges and the Future
As a professional in finance, Kainan draws parallels between his field and the ongoing developments in cancer research. He predicts that “big data and AI will have a long-lasting and transformative effect on cancer research going forward. The ability to analyze data across multiple dimensions will give researchers a more holistic understanding of signaling pathways, and the use of AI will boost the efficiency of tasks associated with biomarker identification and predictive analyses.”
Kainan's journey exemplifies the versatility of McGill alumni and how their experiences continue to impact diverse fields with an abundance of transferrable skills gained through rigorous scientific training. Discover Kainan’s work and connect with him on LinkedIn.