Physiology Graduate Student Spotlight - Meet Ruiqi Cai

Ruiqi Cai is originally from China and he is in his fifth year as a PhD candidate under the supervision of Dr. Xing-Zhen Chen.

3 February 2020

Ruiqi Cai is originally from China, and he is in his fifth year as a PhD candidate under the supervision of Dr. Xing-Zhen Chen.


How would you describe your research (brief)? 

My projects are to understand the mechanisms of transient receptor potential (TRP) channels opening and closing like a gate on the cell surface. Among the mammalian TRP superfamily, I have looked into six representative members (TRPP2, -P3, -M8, -V1, -V6, C4) and found conserved amino acid pairs (intra-molecular interactions) critical for the channel function. The previously described common regulator, a phospholipid called PIP2, of the TRP channels is recently demonstrated to play roles through affecting the interactions by us.

What inspired you to pursue your current research? 

I have been very motivated in human disease-related researches. Before my arrival in Edmonton, our lab focused on autosomal dominant polycystin kidney disease, caused by the numerous mutations of PKD1 and PKD2 (TRPP2). Starting from TRPP2, -P3 and across other members, my colleague Wang and I made great efforts to understand the fundamental details of how these channels work.

What impact(s) will your research have outside of your lab?

Presently, more than one-third of clinical drugs are targeting the membrane proteins. TRP channels are crucial membrane proteins mediating various physiological and pathological processes. Dissecting of the mechanisms of the TRP channel function would be of great value for drug designs and specific clinical interventions regarding abnormal functions of TRP channels.

What advice would you give to someone that is just starting graduate studies?

Plan early, work efficiently, and enjoy YOUR journey.

What is your favourite place/thing to do here at the UofA or in Edmonton?

As a sports fan, I watch all kinds of games, like NBA, soccer, hockey, ping-pong and also go hiking, fishing, play basketball or badminton during free weekends. Although coming from southern China, I very much enjoy the cool summer and freezing winter here in Edmonton.