June 25, 2019

Mani Larijani’s home base is in SFU’s Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, but his research spills into evolutionary and cellular biology, genetics, immunology, oncology, computational science and health science.

Larijani’s multi-disciplinary research program on DNA/RNA mutating processes led him to his new appointment as the Shrum Chair in Biological Mechanisms of Disease.

Larijani comes to SFU from Memorial University of Newfoundland where he was an associate  professor of immunology and infectious diseases, and senior scientist affiliated with the Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute.  He says, “When I studied the interests of various departments and faculty members in SFU’s faculties of science and health, I realized that my work relates quite well to existing strengths. At the same time, my areas of expertise offer new possibilities for growth at SFU through collaboration.  So, it was a great fit in terms of research areas.”

Larijani’s research goal is to understand the upside and the downside of the DNA/RNA-mutating process. He explains, “On the upside, processes change specific genes in immune cells to make them better at fighting infections. Unfortunately, these processes often mutate bystander genes creating the downside of initiating cancer and making cancer cells more aggressive and resistant to treatment.”

To understand these processes as fully as possible, Larijani oversees an interdisciplinary team that uses wet-lab experimentation and dry-lab analysis and computation.  “I believe this approach to research pushes the boundaries of what knowledge is possible to gain through experimentation” he says. “Working in this way, my lab has already made some key discoveries that have led to re-thinking of several biological concepts.”

Larijani says that he is most looking forward to continuing his multi-dimensional approach towards basic discoveries and developing new therapeutic approaches. He’s also excited about teaching and providing his graduate students with an enriching career experience at SFU.

Larijani also insists that our wet West coast weather won’t be an issue for him. “Newfoundland was my home for the last 10 years, and it rains a bit on the East coast too!” he says.

Read about his research here.