"I happily chose to make the move to SFU mainly because it is not only one of the best Canadian Universities with world-class research facilities, a supportive and nurturing scientific community, it is also close to the internationally-acclaimed cancer research ongoing at the BC Cancer Research Institute (BCC) and Terry Fox laboratories located in Vancouver."

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Student Profile: Faezeh Borzooee

March 15, 2022
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Molecular Biology and Biochemistry doctoral student in the Faculty of Science

My name is Faezeh Borzooee, and I am pursuing my Ph.D. degree in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry under the supervision of Dr. Mani Larijani at SFU. Having a meticulous and analytical personality, I have always been passionate about looking into the unknown and establishing my scientific foothold in the competitive world of scientific discovery. Besides, as a human being, I feel a strong drive to work on something that might contribute to new approaches for curing diseases such as cancer. I am sure my Ph.D will give me the tools, knowledge and experiences I need to pursue a career in academia, letting me share my passion with the next generation of scientists and pursue my motivation for research.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO COME TO SFU?

Our lab transferred from the east coast (Memorial University of Newfoundland) to SFU in 2019 for Dr. Larijani to take up the Shrum Chair in Biological Mechanisms of Disease. Being a senior Ph.D. candidate student, I could have remained on the east coast to finish my thesis, but I happily chose to make the move to SFU mainly because it is not only one of the best Canadian Universities with world-class research facilities, a supportive and nurturing scientific community, it is also close to the internationally-acclaimed cancer research ongoing at the BC Cancer Research Institute (BCC) and Terry Fox laboratories located in Vancouver.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR RESEARCH OR YOUR PROGRAM TO A FAMILY MEMBER?

I am studying the effects of changes that occur in our genome by a family of molecules known as “AID/APOBECs on immunotherapy escape in tumor cells. In addition to recognizing foreign pathogens, the immune system is designed to recognize and destroy our own cancer cells. This happens through the recognition of specific molecules known as “tumor antigens” which are displayed on the surfaces of cancer cells. However, cancer cells can avoid detection by the immune system by constantly changing and shifting their repertoire of the tumor antigens. Normally, AID/APOBECs help immune cells by changing genes that improve immune response. However, AID/APOBECs are often mistakenly turned on in cancer cells, and it is well established that they cause many genetic changes in tumors. The goal of my project is to map out the impacts of AID/APOBECs on tumor antigens and to understand how these vary from person to person according to a person’s unique immune system genetics. The results of this study will generate new insights towards personalized cancer immunotherapy, which is the future of cancer therapy.

WHAT ARE YOU PARTICULARLY ENJOYING ABOUT YOUR STUDIES/RESEARCH AT SFU?

The MBB department offers an intellectual environment that allows me to collaborate scientifically with other groups, and I have the opportunity to get involved in cutting-edge research. MBB has many outreach activities that I would enjoy volunteering for. Part of the program support comes from TAing, and I value teaching as an opportunity to give back to students and the community. Also, BC’s magnificent nature never ceases to amaze me; I love both the mountains and the ocean view at the SFU campus.

HAVE YOU BEEN THE RECIPIENT OF ANY MAJOR OR DONOR-FUNDED AWARDS? IF SO, PLEASE TELL US WHICH ONES AND A LITTLE ABOUT HOW THE AWARDS HAVE IMPACTED YOUR STUDIES AND/OR RESEARCH.

To date, I received more than 7 internal and external awards, including Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute (BHCRI), Presidents Ph.D. Scholarship, Dean’s fellowships, and Weyerhaeuser Award. Being recognized by these and other awards gave me greater motivation at this stage of my academic carrier; it also enhanced my track record and will help me compete for post-doctoral fellowships.

 

Contact : fborzooe@sfu.ca