Dr. Lijun Xia was tired of the textbook approach.
He felt like he was stuck in the same routine with his patients — figure out their symptoms, diagnose them and then send them on their way with a treatment.
“That's it,” Xia said. “So there's no room for you to do further research.”
So, Xia got his Ph.D., and then, the young Chinese doctor wrote a letter to a researcher thousands of miles away, asking for a job in the United States.
Months later, he got a letter back, inviting him to Oklahoma, a place he had never been, for a postdoctoral fellowship at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation. It was an opportunity to do medical research in the United States, and he took it.
Almost 20 years later, Xia has since been promoted from his fellowship to a scientist at OMRF, an Oklahoma City nonprofit biomedical research institute.
And he has been successful in his goal of helping patients through studying disease.
Xia, along with fellow OMRF researchers Dr. Jianxin Fu and Brett Herzog, have made a breakthrough in understanding a novel function of platelets that could lead to new treatments to reduce bleeding in trauma and severe infections, according to OMRF.
The breakthrough was recently published in Nature, an international journal that describes itself as publishing “groundbreaking research spanning all of the scientific disciplines.”
In the early ‘90s, China's research infrastructure wasn't strong, with the country having undergone extensive political unrest. Meanwhile, the United States was a good place to study medical research.
When Xia first arrived in Oklahoma in 1995, he didn't anticipate staying. He planned to stay for a few years, study and then move back to China.
Xia wrote that letter in the early 1990s because he was interested in working with researchers at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.
He had heard about doctors like Dr. Rodger McEver and his work with blood vessel research. And Xia wanted to be a part of that. The location of OMRF was secondary for Xia and his family.
“It's important for a place to be known, not sometimes by the land, but most of the time by the people, the people who live there,” he said. “It's the people that make the place famous.”
Xia regularly goes back to China and has continued collaborating with his colleagues there.
He has now lived in Oklahoma longer than his hometown in the Shandong province in China.
“This has become my second hometown,” he said.