Get to Know Timothy Fan

Jun 13, 2019 / Get to Know

Dr. Fan is a professor and serves as the principal investigator of the Comparative Oncology Research Laboratory housed in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Medicine.

Dr. Timothy Fan serves as a professor and the Assistant Head of Research and Graduate Studies within the Department of Veterinary Clinical Medicine. Expanding his specialties across the University, Dr. Fan serves as a core member to the Anticancer Discovery from Pets to People theme and as Assistant Director of Shared Resources for the Basic Science Cancer Center at Illinois. 

How long have you worked at the College of Veterinary Medicine?

In total, I have been employed by the College for 22 years. My first year was as a small animal rotating intern in 1995-1996, and upon returning to the College in 1998, I have spent the last 2 decades working at the College and contributing to the development of the Comparative Oncology program.

Can you give us a description of your role at the college?

I am a Professor in Medical Oncology and within the college, I focus on comparative oncology research and graduate student mentorship. A minor component of my duties also includes professional student training, supervision of clinical activities by medical oncology residents, and didactic lectures. Within the Department of Veterinary Clinical Medicine, I serve as Assistant Head for Graduate Studies and Research, and with the help of many faculty members and motivated graduate students, help to facilitate the conductance of clinically-relevant research and discovery. To expand the footprint of the College of Veterinary Medicine, I contribute my clinical and scientific expertise, as well as leadership, in the discipline of cancer to advance broader University endeavors, which includes being a core faculty member for IGB’s Anticancer Discovery from Pets to People theme, as well as serving as Assistant Director of Shared Resources for the Basic Science Cancer Center at Illinois.

Have you held other titles or responsibilities at the college?

I have had the opportunity to participate in several College-wide responsibilities which cover a spectrum of administrative and advisory roles (Executive, Research Advisory, Promotion/Tenure).

What is your favorite part of your job?

Given my interest in comparative oncology research, the favorite part of my job is interfacing with other scientists who might have a completely different background, such as physical scientists or experimentalists (Chemist, Engineers, etc.) than me (Biology), yet share a common goal in better understanding and treating cancer. Having the different perspectives across diverse disciplines tends to enrich collaborative science, and this is what I enjoy most because it forces me to learn about new ideas and concepts, as well as continually fosters curiosity and open mind thinking.

What motivates you to get up and go to work each day?

I think what I do are fun and challenging, and I don’t really think of what I do as truly “work” in the laborious sense, but rather a way of life that I find fulfillment. That is not to say that I don’t enjoy vacations or staying home with my family or taking my dogs on a long walk through the woods, because all of these things I do like doing too. Rather, I think I am fortunate to have an opportunity in pursuing a career that I find satisfying and enjoyable.

What would your coworkers be surprised to learn about your life outside of work?

While I spend most of my time behind a computer screen or doing laboratory research, at home I really like working outside and doing physical projects like building a koi pond, working in the lawn or just doing small improvements around the house. While I find myself slowing down a bit physically because of lovely Father Time, I still enjoy getting outside and breaking a sweat, and don’t mind getting dirty at all!

Do you have any pets?

Yes, and probably too many! But having pets is a big part offering an enriched experience when raising a family, and my 3 sons are very interested in all sorts of animals spanning insects, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals. We don’t have anything exotic but have plenty of dogs, cats, rabbits, snakes, and turtles, plus a pond full of lovely Japanese Koi, and a saltwater reef aquarium too.