Haider Bilal

Growing up I was constantly exposed to the field of life sciences since my mother and aunt are both doctors. This instilled in me a fascination with the field. After I graduated from high school, I knew I wanted to pursue higher education in a biology-related field. Specifically, I chose MBB because of its focus on cell and molecular biology, and how it relates to human health. I vividly remember my favourite class: MBB 440, Stem Cell Biology & Applications. This class fueled a deep interest for stem cell biology, and their applications to treat human disease. My learning experience in this class eventually drove me to pursue stem cell research in Dr. Lorena Braid’s lab in the MBB department. After hearing about Dr. Braid’s research during the MBB research night, I applied and was selected to do an NSERC undergraduate student research award (USRA) in her lab during my second year. This was my first immersive research-focused semester. This was a turning point in my degree where I realized that I wanted to pursue research further.

After completing my USRA semester, I was then hired as a research assistant in the Braid lab, where I worked part-time for almost an additional year, while I completed my classes. The topic of my research focused on mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs), a type of multipotent cell in the body, that are commonly used as cell therapies to treat various conditions. I eventually completed a second NSERC USRA in the Braid lab in the summer of my third year, alongside an additional award from the Stem Cell Network. I am now starting my fourth year and beginning my directed research semester in the Braid lab, where I hope to complete and defend my honours thesis. I am deeply grateful for the research opportunity that I have been given through my undergrad in MBB. I have not only learned about my own passion for research, but also a plethora of new research skills, which will allow me to excel as a researcher in the future. Overall, studying MBB at SFU was a decision that will make positive and long-lasting impacts on my future career and education.