ForeverMissed
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Dear Friends and Family,

We are heartbroken to announce the passing of our dear brother, Charles. He passed away with family holding his hands on March 12, 2024.

The loss is devastating and words cannot communicate the pain we feel. It is surreal.

Our brother was a source of strength, courage, and love in our lives. His kindness and compassion touched everyone he knew, and his memory will forever be cherished by those lives he touched.

As we mourn his loss, we also want to celebrate the beautiful life he lived and the countless memories he left us with. Please share your stories, memories, and thoughts for Chuck below. 

We love you Chuck.

- Karen


  • Please visit the "LIFE" page for details about the Celebration of Chuck's Life, including the invitation and RSVP information. This page was last updated on April 17.

  • Updates on the memorial fund and celebration of Chuck's life events are now available on the "LIFE" page (March 26, 2024).
New
May 15
Dear Charles,
I met you long ago. You were the super smart kid from the Weisman group in the mouse room next door – and I followed how you over the years developing into a mature brilliant researcher. Today your friends are mourning your untimely passing, but we will always remember your kindness, your generosity, and your contagious smile (even with your mask on). My heart goes out to your wife, Wan-Jin, and your family.
I was lucky to have known you and been your friend.
Fondly
Grete Sonderstrup
New
May 14
May 14
I struggled to find the words for this unimaginable tribute. As I fly back to Stanford for your memorial, it sets in that this is real. Chuck, you were the guy who would literally drop everything to help a friend. You taught me what pay-it-forward truly means, from a deep well of generosity and kindness. You helped me so many times in so many ways, more than I'll ever get the chance to repay now. I hope that in your honor I can pay-it-forward EXTRA EXTRA, in Chuck fashion. You were my favorite person to brainstorm crazy ideas with, especially late at night during a long sort. In my SIM1 days, yours was the first door I would knock on when an experiment was in peril and things were going wrong. I wish that I could be there for your trainees the way you were always there for all of us. I guess now I realize why you burned your science candle so bright, from both ends. Your time with us was too short, but you accomplished so much and dreamed up so much more. I'm so sad that you're gone. I've been trying so hard to remember all those crazy ideas, and I cherish those glimpses I got into your brilliant mind. I hope that we can all help bring them to fruition someday. I'll look for ways to help because I can't think of any better way to honor your memory.

Dear Chuck,

I am deeply grateful for the profound impact you've had on my journey as a graduate student. Your passion for science ignited a fire within me and led me to your lab, where I experienced unforgettable growth and learning.

Throughout my studies, your unwavering encouragement, resilience, and kindness were beacons of light, guiding me through both challenges and triumphs. Despite your mentorship role, you remained approachable and ever-eager to lend a helping hand.

Your guidance has shaped me into the scientist I am today, and for that, I am forever thankful. Your legacy will endure in our hearts and through the scientific pursuits you championed. Your absence leaves a void that will be deeply felt, yet your spirit will continue to inspire us all.

With heartfelt gratitude,

Malachia
April 22
April 22
Dear Chuck,

Elisa and I are both devastated by the news. You were beyond significant in my life as a scientist, and I will always remember you as a great collaborator and a friend. Your passion and dedication for research and new discoveries are what keeps me motivated even to this date. Thank you for everything you have done for me and my family. You will always be remembered.

Our hearts go out to Wan-Jin and the family. Please accept our deepest condolences for your loss. Chuck was an amazing human-being, and we will miss him very much.

Jin
April 20
April 20
Dr. Chan,

Thank you for your mentorship and the amazing research experience you gave my daughter, Sophia. As an untrained high school student, you accepted her into your lab amidst COVID and inspired her to love scientific research. She was passionate about your lab each week and was excited to learn the different techniques you and Eri taught her. You greeted me and my husband with hospitality and graciousness and took time from your busy day to show us around, explain your research, and take photos. Sophia and I will never forget you and we are so thankful to have met you. You are an inspiration to all. You left an indelible mark on Sophia as a role model and teacher. We will miss you. Thank you, Dr. Chan!

Tracy, Dennis and Sophia
April 18
April 18
Dear Chuck,

I was one of the many grad students whom you selflessly helped and guided along even though I was not in your lab or under your wing. Thank you for your generosity and inspiring journey.

Si Hui
April 18
Dear Chuck,
Like many others, I am devastated to learn about your early departure.
I had the rare privilege of meeting and collaborating with you, and I wish it would not be over. From the first moment I met you, I was struck by your kindness, generosity, sweet personality, and crazy hair ;-). Your scientific genius left an unerasable path that many will follow and carry the torch of discovery you lit forward.
Thank you for spending the brief 48 years here with us. Rest in peace, dear friend.
April 10
April 10
Oh Chuck,
I so enjoyed seeing your big smile every time I saw you, and I was awed by your incredible positivity and humor in the face of struggles. You will always be an inspiration to those who knew you. I will miss you.
-Tom
April 7
April 7
Dearest Chuck,

My heart is heavy from this news, but I found great solace in reading the tributes and stories on this website. I still remember sitting in on your seminar my first year of medical school and thinking to myself, "I've got to work with this guy." Your pure love and fascination with science was contagious and, as you know, was a big inspiration for me to eventually pursue a PhD. I found in you more than just a mentor, but a friend, who I could trust and rely on through thick and thin. I will remember all the laughs and the late-night stories in the FACS room. I will remember how you always went out of your way to help me or others, no matter the ask or time. Your selflessness, kindness, and warmth were boundless. You will live on in all the people you've touched and your science will continue to inspire generations to come. Thanks for all you've done for me and those around you, Chuck, and you will be dearly missed.

Best,

Gun
April 3
April 3
Dear Chuck,
The tributes here say it all. I am so saddened by your too soon departure. My deepest condolences to your family, loved ones and world-wide colleagues.
It was an honor to work right outside your office door and watch your successes that came with so much hard work, sacrifice and long hours.
I am grateful for the very fun times we've had with you, Wan-Jin and the gang, both in the Sierras and at the beach (although you were still working most of the time)! You will always be in our hearts.
Judy
March 29
Our sincerest condolences go out to Charles' family, friends, and colleagues from the entire team at the Arthritis National Research Foundation.

We were deeply saddened to hear of his passing. Dr. Chan's work was immensely impactful and we are so grateful to have been a part of his research journey.

We would love to find a way to honor his legacy at the Foundation that you feel comfortable with.
March 28
March 28
Dear Chuck, it has been such an amazing experience to be a neighbor and colleague of you, and I am incredibly grateful for the amazing support and the brainstorming sessions we had on setting up novel single-cell experiment, and just being inspired by your science has been such a treasure that I'll forever miss. My deepest condolences and wishes to your family. We will be building on the knowledge you've fiercely generated to continue the science. Thank you!
March 26
March 26
Chuck,

your kind, caring personality and brilliant scientific mind are a huge loss to all of us who were lucky enough to know you and had the chance to work with you. I miss you and hope that you are at peace.

To Chuck's family:
Treasure the memories of Chuck, think about him as he was when he was happy and healthy. Sending you strength to make it through his difficult time.

With heartfelt sympathy,
Andrea
March 26
March 26
Dear Chuckles,

Many conversations, even sometimes in canto, were an inspiration to think bigger! I'll miss those times in the present, and hope to restart them again in the future. May you rest in perfect peace.

Missing you,
Adriel
March 25
March 25
I was very saddened to hear the news of Chuck's passing and the thought of our loss still makes my heart heavy. I feel very thankful for getting to spend time with him in person at the last Weissman retreat, and for the many zoom calls we spent during the pandemic. I miss Chuck's smile, his contagious enthusiasm, his creative mind and his kind nature. You passed too soon, my friend, but you sure left your mark.

Kim
March 24
March 24
Dear Chuck: Few have accomplished so much in so little time. I'm so sad to hear about your loss and my heart goes out to your loved ones and family.

You leave an increadible legacy of scholarship - work that is timeless and holds such potential to change lives.

I'm grateful to have learned from you many years ago when I entered Irv's lab - you were incredibly patient with me and taught me how to think (& work deep into the night!) like a scientist.

I also got to watch you grow into a leader and saw you build and work with an incredible team. Your passion was infectious for your work and, yes, it was just amazingly creative.
You and your family are in my thoughts. With deepest sympathy, Daniel Corey MD
March 21
March 21
Dear Chuck,

I am grateful that you took me on as a rotation student, all those years ago. I remember when you welcomed me, drove me around (I didn't have a car), and got me Chinese food and bubble tea. It was kind of you.

Your way of doing science was incredibly unique. Even to this day, I deeply admire your creative and out of the box approach to synthetically build stem cell niches "from the ground up" to explore aspects of niche biology that would be almost impossible to explore by "breaking down" existing stem cell niches, which is what almost everyone else does.

Thank you for everything.

Sincerely yours,
Kyle
March 21
March 21
Chuck, my friend!! I miss you. I hope you rest in peace.

We have so much memories together. This news came to me as a shock!
I still can't digest it. I will always wonder what we would have done together.

You have always inspired us with high hopes and big dreams.
I offer my deepest condolences to your family.
March 21
March 21
Hey Chuck,

I still remember the day you asked me to do a journal club as a rising college sophomore who had barely a grasp on the field of skeletal biology. I was super stressed, but I remember you were there guiding me along as I was presenting the paper to the lab. I think this really exemplified the professor you were, so kind, so helpful, and always so generous with your time in helping students, all the way from undergraduates to postdocs, with their future aspirations. I wish there was more time so I could you tell that I will be heading to UCSF for the summer. Words can't describe what Stanford and the stem cell community have lost.

I will always miss your mentorship

-Alvin
March 21
March 21
Dear Chuck,

Thank you for dreaming big dreams and being a beacon of inspiration, for checking in on me during late nights in lab and for having my back during key moments in my graduate career -- from my qualifying exam to my postdoctoral search. You always made time for me and had spot-on advice. You were brilliant in every way.

Amy
March 20
March 20
I'm going to miss our conversations and your advice. You were a compassionate friend and talented scientist. Things won't be the same without you.
March 20
March 20
Dear Chuck,
You went out of your way to be a great colleague and mentor. You approached science with dedication and purpose, and you approached people with positivity, encouragement, and support. You touched a lot of people and your presence will be profoundly missed.
March 20
March 20
Dear Chuck,
I was deeply saddened and taken aback by the news of your untimely departure. I can’t even find the right words to express the profound sense of loss I felt. You were not just incredibly talented and hardworking, but also one of the kindest souls I've had the pleasure to work with. Our times collaborating over years at Stanford are memories I'll always cherish. You were taken from us way too soon. My thoughts are with your family, your team, and all your friends who are feeling this loss deeply. We’re going to miss you more than words can say. I hope you’re somewhere peaceful now, chasing after all those wonderful ideas and questions like only you could.
Fan Yang
March 19
March 19
Dear Chuck,

Working with you was a privilege. You combined a kind, gentle spirit with a brilliant mind. The world has lost one of the good ones.

Pam Sherwood
March 19
March 19
Dear Chuck,
I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to study under a scientist like you. I have never met someone so dedicated to their work. Everyday, you were there to encourage us, offer advice, or simply sit around the lab and crack jokes. I learned so much in such a short period of time, I felt so supported and appreciated working with you. You created a place that was both fun and challenging to work in.
I am proud to call you my mentor and friend, I hope you find peace and rest. My deepest condolences to your family and friends.

You will be missed,
Suzan Stavitsky
Derrick Rossi
March 19
March 19
Dear Chuck
I am so sad. I miss you already.
Love
Your friend Derrick
March 18
March 18
Lieber Chuck,

letzte Woche hast Du zu früh diese Welt verlassen. Ich werde Deine Hilfe während meiner Zeit in Stanford nie vergessen. Du hast mir gezeigt, dass exzellente Wissenschaft und Forschung auf der einen Seite und Menschlichkeit, Aufrichtigkeit und Integrität auf der anderen Seite zusammengehören. Ich bin sicher, dass das Leben mit dem Irdischen nicht endet und ich freue mich darauf, Dir, Deinem Interesse, Deiner Offenheit und Deiner Menschlichkeit in Zukunft wieder zu begegnen.

Tristan
March 18
March 18
Dear Chuck,

Your passion for science has always been ahead of us.
You will be missed.

-Jun
March 18
March 18
Dear Chuck,

We are so saddened that you are no longer here with us. I will very much miss our conversations about science and the chance to experience your brilliance. On behalf of the Immunology program, thank you for everything you contributed, for teaching, mentoring, and inspiring our students, and for always being willing to pitch in and help. Your legacy will live on with everyone you’ve touched here. 

Olivia
March 18
March 18
Dear Chuck,

May your kindness and legacy inspire generations of scientists to continue the quest for knowledge and understanding.

Evelyn Hernandez
March 18
March 18
Dear Chuck,

It doesn't feel real to me. The last time we met in person was at Malachia's defense. You were so cheerful and energetic. I'm thankful that I got the opportunity to be a CIRM intern in your lab for a year. You were always there to answer questions and provide support in the lab. Such as demonstrating surgeries. You made me enthusiastic about science. Thank you for helping me with my PhD applications this year. I hope one day I can become a scientist you'll be proud of.

You will always be missed,
Alina Alam
March 18
Dear Chuck,

It’s hard to grasp that you’re no longer with us. Reflecting back, I still remember the feeling of being awe-struck by your talk in Vienna in 2018, where I first met you. From our initial meeting in your office during my first week at Stanford—where we discussed lab rotation project at 9pm —to countless late-night conversations about experiments, and memories shared at the flow cytometer, these memories are as vivid as if they had happened yesterday.

Your fervent passion for science and unwavering motivation have not only inspired but also profoundly impacted many students. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have been one of those touched by your generosity and dedication.

As a mentor, you embodied generosity and hard work within the stem cell institute, setting a high benchmark for us all. Your commitment as a teacher and mentor was unwavering, and your hard work and drive for science has been a continuous source of inspiration for me. I am lucky to have the opportunity to tell you this while you were still right in front of me.

You were a true pioneer in the field of skeletal stem cell biology. Though my time learning from you was brief, it was immensely impactful and unforgettable. Your legacy continues to motivate me to work even harder to diligently pursue advancements in the blood and bone stem cell field, honoring your memory in the most fitting way possible!

You will be terribly missed, yet your influence endures, guiding many, including myself, to forge ahead with the same courage and commitment you exemplified.
March 17
March 17
Dear Chuck,

I am sad that you are no longer with us. I will cherish how your kind and enthusiastic greetings along the hallway and conversations during institute events gave me a warm sense of collegiality and belonging. My heartfelt and deepest condolences go out to your family.

-Lay Teng
March 17
March 17
Dear Chuck,
I can't believe you're no longer with us. Our encounters on the third floor of the institute, where your smile always greeted me, now feel like cherished memories. I had no idea about your illness, and I'm deeply sorry that our science couldn't prevent your untimely passing. I liked your biological approach and had high hopes that you would shine in the next generation of regenerative medicine. Your loss, as a talented and promising scientist, motivates me to work even harder to advance our research. We'll all miss you terribly. The world feels a little less vibrant without you."
March 16
March 16
Dear Chuck,

I still couldn't believe that you would not be present in the lab and chat with us anymore. You were such a brilliant scientist and supportive mentor who was always ready to help advance my research and career. Even during our last conversation, two days before you left, you were still helping me by establishing connections with other institutes, paving the way for my future. I am so glad and proud to be your student. Your absence will forever be felt.

Liming
March 16
Dear Chuck,

You were a real pioneer that changed the world forever with your science. The rest of us will be left walking down the scientific paths you cleared. Wish that we'd had longer together to talk and learn from you. I wish comfort and peace to your family and friends.

Matt
March 16
March 16
Dear Chuck,
It's been incredibly hard to accept that you're gone, and your memories linger in my thoughts, even manifesting in my dreams. You were not just a brilliant scientist, but also remarkably down-to-earth, kind, humorous, full of life and always ready to help. Your youth, intelligence, humility, and simplicity left a lasting impression on everyone fortunate enough to know you.
I'll always remember the night when, of your own accord, you stayed up until 3 a.m. to help Debashis during your visit to us. Your presence made Stanford feel like home in our every visit even after Debashis had been away for so long. I will never forget your encouragement of my improved English skills and introduction to ChatGPT will forever be cherished as part of your legacy.
May your impactful work be preserved for generations to come. My prayers go out to Wanjin, family and friends, wishing them strength during this difficult time.
March 16
Dear Chuck,
We miss you and how you always had a kind word to say; how you always stepped up to help someone when they asked for your help; how you passionately believed in science; how you always had a moment when we ran into you on campus/in the mouse house or called you; the list is long. The Immunology Program lost its kindest soul when you left us, we will forever honor your memory and think with fondness of all the times you made us smile ❤ Big hugs, Lina and Grete
March 16
Chuck,

You changed so many people for the better in ways you probably didn't even realize. Always positive, gracious, and kind, even after one of your epic but routine 20 hour days in the lab (I remember once trying to set a curfew for you just so you would sleep!). I wish I had told you in life, but your legacy will live on in those you touched. I'll miss you, Chuck.
March 16
March 16
Dear Chuck,

It is heartbreaking to hear that you are no longer with us. You were a brilliant and fearless scientist, illuminating the field with groundbreaking work, 'soil-and-tree', 'fountain of youth', and beyond. You were a generous and humorous brother, always ready with a silly joke and your infectious laughter. We will miss you deeply!

Rong
March 16
March 16
Dearest Chuck,

Your zest for life, passion for science, patience and guidance as a mentor, kindness and warm as a dear friend will be so missed. From the moment we first met in January 2016 when you kindly picked me up from the Caltrain to meet with Dr Longaker you showed me nothing but kindness. You were like my academic big brother…funny, cool, super smart and charming. We had such fun over the years and discovered some amazing things! Even in the depths of those overnight experiments you always made it fun…you made work fun and life fun. Without exception you brought a smile to my face every time we talked. Dear Chuck we had so many dreams and aspirations…and in your honour those aspirations will come to be. You live on in all those you mentored and all those who had the opportunity to bear witness to your genius! You will always be an inspiration to us all. Rest in peace my dear friend. Síocháin air/ Rest in Peace.
March 16
March 16
Im devastated by this horrible news. The world lost a great mind and we lost a brother and friend. Chuck, you have touched the heart of many and will be greatly missed. Deepest condolences to the family.
March 16
March 16
Dear Chuck,
You were one of the kindest and most down-to-earth people I knew. I will always be immensely grateful for the unconditional support you provided me when I most needed it, and for always leaving your door open for me to discuss research projects or life goals. Thank you so much for everything! I will dearly miss you!
March 15
March 15
Chuck, I'm going to miss your quirky humor, gentle smile, insatiable curiosity, and kindness. You were the scientist's scientist - always pushing yourself and others to think bigger and to do things the right way, even when it wasn't expedient. You remain an inspiration to me and to so many others who were lucky enough to call you their colleague and friend. Rest in peace, my brother.
March 15
March 15
Dearest Chuck,
What an amazing, passionate life you led! I was so lucky to be your friend and will forever cherish your memory. All my love to Wan-Jin and your family,
Cindy
March 15
March 15
Dear Chuck,

Looking forward to chatting more about our adorable, cute, and silly cats sometimes. 

Thank you for everything. We already miss you dearly.
March 15
March 15
Dear Chuck,

You are the forever sunshine that lights up my life. I miss all your kind words of encouragement, the quirky lines of humor, and your firm steps of action. Your life was stolen too quickly, but your impact will continue, on all who you cared and all who cared for you.

Yunxiao
March 15
Dear Chuck family, team members and colleagues, I am deeply saddened to hear about Chuck's passing. He radiated exceptional intellect, positive energy, and kindness. His accomplishments in research were remarkable, yet he remained humble and down-to-earth. He had a way of making everyone feel smarter and kinder, just by being around him. His absence will be deeply felt, and his memory cherished dearly. Please accept my heartfelt sympathy during this difficult time. Heike E. Daldrup-Link
March 15
March 15
Chuck was a kind, brilliant, and fearless scientist. He was a source of joy in the lab and beyond, and he will be sorely missed by all of us. I'm so sorry he left us so soon.
Warmly,
Lauren
March 15
Dear Chuck,

You were my sounding board for many scientific discussions and life updates. I will miss the times when we grumbled, about grant writing and things we mutually disliked. Thank you for being my friend, for introducing me to some of my best friends and for always being there. You led your life with such integrity and strength. I will miss you.

Melanie
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Recent Tributes
New
May 15
Dear Charles,
I met you long ago. You were the super smart kid from the Weisman group in the mouse room next door – and I followed how you over the years developing into a mature brilliant researcher. Today your friends are mourning your untimely passing, but we will always remember your kindness, your generosity, and your contagious smile (even with your mask on). My heart goes out to your wife, Wan-Jin, and your family.
I was lucky to have known you and been your friend.
Fondly
Grete Sonderstrup
New
May 14
May 14
I struggled to find the words for this unimaginable tribute. As I fly back to Stanford for your memorial, it sets in that this is real. Chuck, you were the guy who would literally drop everything to help a friend. You taught me what pay-it-forward truly means, from a deep well of generosity and kindness. You helped me so many times in so many ways, more than I'll ever get the chance to repay now. I hope that in your honor I can pay-it-forward EXTRA EXTRA, in Chuck fashion. You were my favorite person to brainstorm crazy ideas with, especially late at night during a long sort. In my SIM1 days, yours was the first door I would knock on when an experiment was in peril and things were going wrong. I wish that I could be there for your trainees the way you were always there for all of us. I guess now I realize why you burned your science candle so bright, from both ends. Your time with us was too short, but you accomplished so much and dreamed up so much more. I'm so sad that you're gone. I've been trying so hard to remember all those crazy ideas, and I cherish those glimpses I got into your brilliant mind. I hope that we can all help bring them to fruition someday. I'll look for ways to help because I can't think of any better way to honor your memory.

Dear Chuck,

I am deeply grateful for the profound impact you've had on my journey as a graduate student. Your passion for science ignited a fire within me and led me to your lab, where I experienced unforgettable growth and learning.

Throughout my studies, your unwavering encouragement, resilience, and kindness were beacons of light, guiding me through both challenges and triumphs. Despite your mentorship role, you remained approachable and ever-eager to lend a helping hand.

Your guidance has shaped me into the scientist I am today, and for that, I am forever thankful. Your legacy will endure in our hearts and through the scientific pursuits you championed. Your absence leaves a void that will be deeply felt, yet your spirit will continue to inspire us all.

With heartfelt gratitude,

Malachia
His Life

You're Invited: A Celebration of Chuck’s Life

April 17
by Karen Haas on behalf of Wan-Jin Lu
on behalf of Wan-Jin Lu
Dear Friends,

As we navigate through these challenging times, coming to terms with the world without our beloved Chuck, it's important to remember the profound impact he had on each of us. Chuck's legacy is filled with moments of kindness, laughter, and unforgettable memories that continue to inspire and comfort us.

We cordially invite you to join us on May 15, 2024, from 3-6 PM at the Stanford Arrillaga Alumni Center, to celebrate Chuck’s life. The gathering will highlight Chuck’s significant scientific contributions and visions. It will also be a time for you to share your stories and interactions with Chuck, as we reminisce about the good times spent together and honor the memory of a remarkable person who made every moment count.

Please use this link to let us know if you'll be able to join us in person.  If you'd prefer to attend virtually, we're also arranging a Zoom option—If you are interested in joining virtually, please RSVP “No” and when prompted provide your email address so we can send you the link directly.

We're truly looking forward to sharing this special occasion with you, hearing your cherished memories of Chuck, and celebrating his incredible life together.

Warm regards,
Wan-Jin & The Chan family

Honoring the Legacy of Dr. Charles (Chuck) Chan: Memorial Fund Announcement

March 26
by Karen Haas on behalf of Wan-Jin Lu
on behalf of Wan-Jin Lu
Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Chuck leaves behind an enduring legacy in his scientific endeavors and his remarkable personal spirit, cherished by all who knew him. 
In honor of Chuck's impactful contributions, a memorial fund has been established under the Stanford School of Medicine. Memorial donations can be made in the following ways:
  • By Check: Donation checks may be made payable to Stanford University with a memo note of “In memory of Dr. Charles (Chuck) Chan” and mailed to: P.O. Box 20466, Stanford, CA 94309-0466
  • Online: Gifts can also be made online at this secure giving link. Under 'Your gift specifications' mark the gift is in memory of Dr. Charles (Chuck) Chan
  • By phone: Call 650-725-4360 or (toll-free) 866-543-0243 and note you would like to make a gift in memory of Dr. Charles (Chuck) Chan.
  • If you would like to make a gift by another method not listed above, please contact Ting Liu at liuting@stanford.edu
Your contributions will honor Chuck's lasting legacy in both his scientific career and his personal spirit. Thank you for ensuring his impact continues to inspire future generations.
March 25
We will keep you informed regarding plans for a Memorial Celebration for Chuck (tentative date: May 15, 2024).

Recent stories
April 24
It’s incredibly difficult for me to express how I feel at this moment. You’ve not only been an exceptional scientist but also a wonderful friend ever since I was sent to your lab by the late Dr. George Yang for training in 2018. Following that, we met in regular basis, and you have given us valuable guidance to establish Dr. Yang’s lab here in Alabama. The loss of Dr. Yang in 2022 was a tough loss for both of us. The year 2022 has been a very tough year and I often lose hope of getting our work published. But you were there with me, encouraged me, helped me, and finally we get that work published in 2023. It is hard to get to know you are no longer with us in such a young age. We have shared many late-night calls and many moments of laughter. We have talked many topics, from science, to career paths, to lifestyle, to the challenges of securing funding nowadays, et al. It has been a great 5 years working remotely with you and you have been a truly valuable friend. If you met Dr. Yang in heaven, say hi for me. Miss both of you dearly.

Charles K.F. Chan Personal Statement (~2001 for Graduate School)

March 20
If I could be anything in the world, I want to be a child again. I want to romp in the fields. I want to spend my time looking under rocks for bugs, digging for grubs or searching for tadpoles. I want to build spaceships out of Lego's, fly them to distant planets, fight epic battles with alien robots and die nobly, in a blinding supernova, all before suppertime. I want to do things that make people stare and not have to care. I want to be an expert on insects, and dinosaurs. Know all their names, and vital statistics. And afterwards, create creatures of my own design that are part insects-part dinosaurs. I want to find things out by myself and believe what I want to believe, not what people tell me to.

I wish to be blessed like some children are, like I was. Blessed with a million futures and dreams that can come true. Blessed with time for tomorrow. Blessed with an unconditional love for one another that is felt but never understood. Blessed with a life that is simple, and uncomplicated.

I clung to my childhood, consciously and subconsciously. I went to Toys R'us often. But though I struggled, I could not hold on. I grew. People began to depend on me. I learned to be responsible, and knowledge and experience took their toll. Nevertheless, I still believe in second chances, in forgive and forget. I try to look for the good in people. And I haven't given up on a better tomorrow.

If I cannot be a child, then let me be a scientist. I've never out grown my love of nature and tirelessly pursued it throughout my life, both in and out of academia. My parents and teachers taught me the basics- how to observe, count, and analyze. Then I gradually leamed to apply these fundamentals to understand the physical world around me. In high school I gained the opportunity to intern in research institutions at local universities. I learned much about the practice of scientific research. I also discovered that the occupation is one of many virtues, and the one of my choice.

Scientists have boundless curiosity and an unrestrained imagination that may be child-like. They live for the future and see far ahead. Indeed, they are visionaries whose fantasies may eventually become our realities. Despite their importance, scientists are often underpaid. I did not understand till I have put in long hours at the bench myself, for the chief compensation of the scientist's work is not monetary but in the satisfaction that is gained from it. Nevertheless, I still feel they should be able to provide well for their families. The wealth of knowledge they do have they share willingly. They encourage competition and cooperation since there is never a shortage of mysteries to be explored. It is also this general benevolence, which helped me select scientific research over other occupations I have considered.

By the time I completed college all my doubts were resolved. I have acquired a detailed understanding of the molecular and mechanistic aspects of life. I am particularly grateful to Professor Ashraf Imam, of U.S.C., Professors Mark Bennett, Hsiao-Ping Moore and Yeon Kyun Shin,  of U.C.Berkeley, and Dr's Michelle Poirier, and Beatriz Quinones of Johns Hopkins and U.C. Berkeley respectively,  for giving me additional, and invaluable opportunities for research training and experience. With their help, I have gained a broad spectrum of skills and knowledge that encompass significant aspects of research in structural biology, biochemistry and cell biology. Specifically, I have learned how to characterize the physical interactions of a class of membrane proteins, the SNAREs, with biochemical techniques and to employ a novel spectroscopy method, known as EPR, to by-pass the limits of crystallization and solve the structure of a protein complex in its native, soluble form.  I spent three years under the tutelage of the Bennett team and as an undergrad, I am most proud of my contributions to projects that led to co-authorships in two successful publications from that lab, one of which details the first successful determination of the structure of the SNARE complex- the likely core machinery of vesicle fusion. Currently, I'm continuing work on the SNARE proteins by following their function in cell lines, and using genetic manipulation ,IF and radioactive techniques to determine, and quantitatively characterize their cellular roles. I am also continuing with work that I started for my honors thesis, which I hope will lead to a publication soon. 

At U.S.C Medical School, I also saw the practical side of science, and discovered how the immune system of mice can be manipulated to distinguish differences between normal and cancerous breast tissue by first tolerizing neonatal mice with normal tissue, followed by inoculation with cancerous tissue. The method leads to the generation of cancer specific antibodies which can be used in diagnosis and therapy. Through all this I have made great strides in my ability to interpret results correctly, and to design experiments that yield easily interpretable results. I learned to work as well in a team as on my own . I learned how to communicate scientifically, and read scientific publications critically. I now know the importance of proper controls and lab notes, and I'm becoming more skilled in the proper choreography of experiments, which is so necessary to the study of sensitive biological systems. I've become proficient in the business of running a lab, by doing my job as the lab tech and dealing with all the little details necessary for optimal lab function. I've learned a lot.  In graduate school, I will complete my training as a scientist and begin my own career of discovery.

I know what I want to find. Since ancient times there were tales of a sacred vessel, amulet, pill, or fountain, which can restore youth and grant eternal life. Though they cannot be disproved, no such fountain of youth exists today. Recently, hope has arisen from a different direction. Research into the mechanisms regulating cell growth and differentiation has brought the impossible into the range of possibility. The birth of Dolly, clonally propagated from a differentiated adult cell, refuted earlier beliefs that cell fate is irreversible. Research on stem cells has revealed how cell fate may be determined by external stimuli. The discovery that even terminally differentiated nerve cells are capable of new growth further underscores the flexibility of cell fates and their ability to be controlled and manipulated. The immediate progression of current research may soon lead to a scenario whereby diseased, or senescent tissue can be replaced with newly generated, artificial ones. Potentially, clonally propagated, genetically engineered livestock that has been tolerized against human tissue antigens can serve as seed beds from which universally histo-compatible organs are grown and harvested.

Gradual refinement of the replacement strategy will greatly improve lifespan, health, and lead to a rough realization of the goal in our lifetime. However, aging may be genetically preprogrammed and even new grafts will eventually age. A better solution may lie in the understanding of the mechanisms that control cell number, those that regulate the flux of cellular life and death. An excellent basis for such studies and the likely focus of my graduate education is the nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans.

These tiny worms present numerous advantages as model organisms. They are easily maintained on bacteria lawns and can be stored in frozen glycerol stocks much like bacteria. The worms are hermaphroditic which simplifies maintenance of mutant lines. Since the genome has been completely sequenced, genetic analysis should be much easier to perform. The cell lineages of all 959 adult cells have also been determined which will limit the complexity of phenotypic analysis. The animals are excellent for the study of many problems pertaining to development and aging.

They have a short life cycle with tightly regulated cell growth and death mechanisms homologous to our own. Longevity mutants of worms have also been isolated, though most seem to rely on preservation of existing cells, not replacement of old ones with new. The worm may also be developed as a bare bone system for the study of non-inherent mechanisms, such as regeneration, that could be introduced through genetic manipulation.

Continuing innovation and new technologies, such as micro-array analysis, bioinformatics, and computer-guided automation are rapidly increasing the rate and scope of biological research. The day may near when we can design completely new cells with new genomes modeled on our own that will have the necessary characteristics to make us ageless. They will have very robust, redundant cell death and growth-regulation mechanisms, which will allow the optimal youthful state of cellular flux to be constantly maintained. Senescent, diseased cells can be cleared through apoptosis and replaced with the proper number of new ones. Totipotent progenitors of these cells can be introduced intravenously. They may rely on mechanisms adapted from lymphocytes to home in and migrate to their target tissue. There, they will target the native cells for removal, while simultaneously differentiating to replace them. Hence the body can be rejuvenated in a lasting way without invasive surgery. However, the surgical discard and replace approach may serve until the new technology has matured.

I've read A. Huxley. I recognize the ethical implications of my views. Historically, science developed with the best of intention has been used for evil purposes. Even plowshares can be bent into swords. Though evil minds will always stir, we cannot lie around prostrate with fear of the future and let them take our dreams away. Evil must be vigilantly guarded against.

With success, there is much that is possible. A longer life-span will allow us to build on a greater base of knowledge then we have ever had. We will have time to explore all the different roles and do all the different things that we have wished to, in real life. There will be time for us to explore multiple areas of science and perhaps even develop new ones. Time will let us realize our dreams. With time, we can afford to be patient, and we will share more willingly. With patience, we may submit to voluntary, reversible sterilization that will help us maintain a sustainable population. With effort, peace will last until we can take to the stars to escape the great danger of self-imposed human extinction that is so prevalent these days. With luck, we may watch our young ones play on green fields one day, completely care free, knowing they are safe. They will have much to learn, but they will have time to enjoy a rich and full childhood, and when they step into adulthood, it will not be far from what they were as children.

I do not know if I will succeed. I do not think it is an impossible dream though it may seem like one. Already there are many who are directly or indirectly moving towards the same goal as my own. I hope to join them and I hope to bring others to join us. We will try as long as we have time. And as long as we have time, we will hope.

Your legacy lives on

March 16
Dearest Chuck,

Your zest for life, passion for science, patience and guidance as a mentor, kindness and warm as a dear friend will be so missed. From the moment we first met in January 2016 when you kindly picked me up from the Caltrain to meet with Dr Longaker you showed me nothing but kindness. You were like my academic big brother…funny, cool, super smart and charming. We had such fun over the years and discovered some amazing things! Even in the depths of those overnight experiments you always made it fun…you made work fun and life fun. Without exception you brought a smile to my face every time we talked. Dear Chuck we had so many dreams and aspirations…and in your honour those aspirations will come to be. You live on in all those you mentored and all those who had the opportunity to bear witness to your genius! You will always be an inspiration to us all. Rest in peace my dear friend. Síocháin air/ Rest in Peace.

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