Leslie Goo

Group Leader, Infectious Diseases

How did you become interested in science?

No one in my family is a scientist by profession so I sort of discovered it on my own.  I’ve always been a curious person and interested in understanding why and how things work. In college, I took a medical microbiology class and was particularly interested in viruses because they have such small genomes. It was fascinating to me that something seemingly so simple could do so much to manipulate the human body. That class combined with my experience growing up in Indonesia helped me realize that the determinants of human health are complex – they include not only biological factors, but also societal and economic factors.  That’s why I became interested in public health.

What was your educational path?

I was born and raised in Indonesia and lived there until I was in 10th grade.  At that time, my family moved to Shanghai, China for my dad’s job. I did not speak enough Chinese to be enrolled in their schools so I attended the American school and was introduced to the American system of education.  It was then that a high school counselor talked to me about attending college in the United States.  That’s how I learned about the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.  I earned my undergraduate degree in Microbiology as well as my Master’s degree in Public Health there, focusing on infectious diseases.  For my PhD, I was very specific about wanting to apply basic science research to public health problems, and the University of Washington in Seattle offered such a program.

When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?

I recently moved to San Francisco so I am trying to get settled.  So far, I really like it and look forward to exploring the area.  I like being outdoors, either running or biking. I also grew up on an island so I like being close to the beach.

What brought you to CZ Biohub?

I was excited about the vision of creating an environment for open, inter-disciplinary, collaborative science. I was particularly attracted to Biohub’s timely decision to offer young, early-career scientists like myself an alternative to the traditional path of academia. Another appeal was the freedom to explore risky areas of scientific research with complete internal funding (thus no grant writing!) and the ability to work in an environment alongside people with different areas of expertise — computer scientists, bioengineers, data scientists, etc. This is such a unique environment for moving science forward.

What advice would you have for young women entering the field of science and medicine?

Seek out as many mentors as you can. I’ve been fortunate throughout college and my scientific career to have had mentors of different backgrounds and perspectives who believed in me and gave me direct, and sometimes difficult advice.

Educational Background

  • BS – University of Michigan
  • MPH – University of Michigan
  • PhD – University of Washington
  • Postdoctoral – NIAID/National Institutes of Health
    focused on NIADID – understanding the mechanisms of antibody recognition of mosquito-borne viruses