Qiannan got her Bachelors degree in 2010 from Shandong University in China where she did some research on the isolation of chemical compounds from plants. Then she got her PhD degree in 2016 from the Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, under the supervision of Professor Guangxia Gao. Her research was focused on the interplay between flu virus and the antiviral protein ZAPS (Zinc finger antiviral protein). She investigated how ZAPS inhibits flu virus and the molecular mechanisms by which the virus antagonizes the restriction activity of ZAPS. She also did some work on the identification of ISGs (interferon-stimulated genes), which may play a role in inhibiting virus replication. With a research background in ISGs and virology, Qiannan become interested in innate immunity and joined the Rehwinkel goup as a postdoctoral researcher in 2017. Here, her project is focused on the identification of potential sensors of endogenous nucleic acids in mammalian cells.