Nancy Chang

“Follow your heart, follow your passion.”

Through the airplane window 19-year-old Nancy Chang watched Taiwan disappear beneath her. To pass the time on the long trip to the United States, where she was to attend Brown University, she opened a copy of The Double Helix, James Watson’s first-person account of discovering the structure of DNA. Sixteen hours later the plane touched down in Boston. Chang had made up her mind: she would study biology. 

Chang went on to study at Harvard Medical School as one of the school’s first international students. She received a Ph.D. in biological chemistry and became one of the world’s most successful biotech businesswomen after cofounding Tanox (now part of Genentech), a company that sought remedies for asthma and allergies through the use of genetics engineering.

Learn  more

  • Read a feature article about women and pharmaceutical science in the 17th-century from CHF's magazine, Chemical Heritage.
  • Nancy Chang won the 2012 Biotechnology Heritage Award from CHF and the Biotechnology Industry Organization. Read more.
  • Read the film transcript.


Catalyst Series: Women in Chemistry

Women in Chemistry

Follow the adventures of eight leading women in chemistry and celebrate their life-changing, chance-taking, thrill-seeking love of science. 

Reflections on Careers

Learn more about women's contributions to science through CHF's Women in Chemistry oral histories.

Stories from the Field

Listen to career insights and stories of scientific adventures from women in chemistry.

Sensing Change

See your environment with fresh eyes through this online exhibit.