Postdoc Profile: Tiffany-Anne Timbers, Banting Postdoctoral Fellow

September 15, 2015

Congratulations to Dr. Tiffany-Anne Timbers, recipient of a prestigious Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship of $70,000 per year for two years to support her research at the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, SFU. Dr. Timbers is one of five Banting Fellows at SFU in 2014–15.

Dr. Timbers will be working in the Leroux Laboratory at SFU, the major research hub in Canada for the study of cilia, the specialized structures which act as “cellular antennae” in cells in all organs. Cilia play key roles in sensation such as vision, touch and olfaction. It is also related to organ development and positioning in the body. The goals of her research are to rapidly discover new genes critical for sensation that are also linked to the human sensory disorders. This could include retinal degeneration, kidney disease, congenital heart disease, as well as skeletal and brain malformations.

Dr. Timbers says, “Although we have identified some of the genetic basis for so many of these disorders, much is still unexplained. Further study in this area with the goal of identifying additional genes associated with human sensory diseases will lead to the development of new diagnostics and treatments. A major benefit of holding a Banting Fellowship at SFU besides the outstanding research environment is that it will help me exploit the rich and diverse network of colleagues and potential collaborators at SFU and in the surrounding area.

She will be employing the Million Mutation Project (MMP)11, a collection of 2,007 multi-mutation nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans, strains whose genomes are fully sequenced and annotated. This mutant library represents an unprecedented genetic resource and her work will place her solidly on the leading edge of the big data revolution in the biomedical sciences. 

She says, “My findings will have substantial impact for our understanding of how cells sense the environment and new genetic diagnostics that arise from my work could have immediate impacts. These tests will allow patients to make informed decisions about managing their health care, for example by directing a patient toward available prevention, monitoring, and treatment options and/or allowing for newborn screening to identify genetic disorders early in life so treatment(s) can be started as early as possible.”

Dr. Timbers also plans to contribute to the intellectual community at Simon Fraser University. She is a founding member of the SFU Postdoctoral Fellows Association, and she is currently in training to be a Software Carpentry Bootcamp instructor, a role which will help her teach core software programming skills to local researchers and clinicians. 

Recording of Dr. Timbers' presentation at our Banting Postdocs Day event:

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