1. You were involved with the Alberta MS Network (endMS) during your time as a post-doctoral Fellow at the University of Alberta and University of Calgary. For you, what was the most beneficial aspect of the Network?
The best aspect of being involved with the Alberta MS Network was getting the opportunity to meet and directly interact with other MS researchers. One always finds out about other people who work in the same area by doing literature reviews and PubMed Searches, but that rarely leads to peer-to-peer sharing of work experience. While attending big international or regional congresses is helpful in knowing and networking with people from various disciplines, I believe is it far more efficient to bring together researchers focused on a particular disease in comparatively smaller groups. In my opinion, this is what Alberta MS Network has accomplished extremely well.
2. Can you tell us a little more about your current position and the work you are doing?
After completing my postdoctoral training at Universities of Alberta and Calgary, I started my work as an Assistant Professor at Department of Immunology, Tehran University of Medical Sciences (TUMS), Iran. Similar to Alberta, here in Iran we have a big MS problem and Immunology, Neuroscience and Neurology Departments are very interested in basic and clinical MS research. Following up on the work that I had started during my postdoctoral training in Dr Christopher Power’s laboratory at University of Alberta and Dr Morley D. Hollenberg’s laboratory at University of Calgary, I have focused on investigating the role of different microRNAs in MS pathogenesis. We have also tried to extend our work to other non-coding RNAs and their potential role in immune regulation during autoimmune demyelination. I currently hold an Associate Professor position at Department of Immunology, TUMS.
3. Do you have any advice for our trainees?
Make sure that you are equipped with knowledge and skills to do research and develop your career in a “post-genomic” era. Classical ways of thinking and research in biology in which one tries to investigate single or few molecules or analytes are being complemented by methodologies which seek to acquire system-level information about biological (and pathological) entities. Hence, as much it is important to learn about doing PCRs, Western blots, immunostainings or cell cultures, it is important to learn about Next Generation Sequencing, high throughput data analyses, and advanced bioinformatics. And it is not just the methods or techniques that one needs to be familiar with, it is, perhaps more importantly, the way of thinking and the way designing research that should be in harmony with this ‘new age’ of research in medicine.
4. Any other information that you would like to share.
I would like to sincerely thank Alberta MS network (endMS) for providing MS researchers with such a great environment for scientific interactions and collaborations. And I really hope that Alberta MS Network alumni can maintain strong working relations with the network through research visits, sabbaticals and exchange of students and postdoctoral trainees.
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