NSLHD Year in Review 2019

Like father, like son

Professor Xin-Ming Chen with his son Matthew

Kolling renal researcher Associate Professor Xin-Ming Chen used to worry that his young son Matthew resented his long hours at work. There were times when Matthew, 8, struggled to understand why his dad’s commitment to reducing the risk of kidney disease for diabetics seemed to keep him away from his family. But now, after reading Matthew’s beautiful tribute to his dad’s life-saving endeavours, Xin-Ming is thrilled his work is a source of family pride. Matthew, in Year 2 at Hornsby North Public School, is a finalist in the 5-8 year category of the annual Young Archie award, part of the Archibald Prize run by the NSW Gallery. His third Young Archie entry (his first earned an honourable mention three years ago; his second made the finals in 2017) is a stunning oil pastel of his dad at work in the lab. Matthew spent nine hours on his entry, which is one of 10 in the running to take out the prize for his age group. His entry reads: “I have drawn my dad because he is a great medical scientist and also a wonderful father. My dad’s daily job is to examine cells, a tiny world in the human body, through a microscope to

find out if cells are healthy or sick. This information is very important for medical doctors. My dad can capture any small changes in a cell with his sharp eyes. My dad told me junk food may cause damage to cells in the human body. He loves me and cares about family. I want to become a medical scientist like my daddy when I grow up.” The Young Archie portrait competition is open to artists between the ages of five and 18, and the work must be of a person who is special to you – someone who is known to you and who knows you and plays a significant role in your life.

Xin-Ming said he was delighted by Matthew’s words. “He knows I do this because I want to help patients,” he said. Xin-Ming and his team of 15 with Professor Carol Pollock are looking at ways to reduce the risk for the almost-50 per cent of Type 2 diabetics who develop kidney disease. It’s a double jeopardy which is very close to home – Xin-Ming was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2003.


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