Sepideh Abbasi, PhD, Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal

The path to career success in research may not always be obvious, but it does contain some common features: find a group or lab that allows you to explore and learn, do good research and write standout papers. However, to distinguish themselves from the crowd, trainees often need to go above and beyond this essential list. Over the past 18 years, the Stem Cell Network has helped more than 2,500 trainees do just that, through research activities, workshops, courses, conferences and participation on various committees.

Dr. Sepideh Abbasi well knows the benefits afforded by extra training. Abbasi was connected to the Stem Cell Network as a PhD student through a funded project in the Jeff Biernaskie lab at the University of Calgary. Here, Abbasi studied hair follicle and skin regeneration and the potential use of skin stem cells to generate new dermal tissue. She leveraged her time in the Biernaskie lab into several training opportunities, including oral and poster presentations at the Till & McCulloch Meetings and involvement in courses and workshops such as Genetic Tools, Cellular Therapies Manufacturing and Clinical Trials, Grant Writing, Science Communications and Career Development.

“I absolutely enjoy working in the lab trying to answer scientific questions and discover exciting facts related to my research. However, it was never enough for me! I’ve always been curious to expand my horizons by learning more about other research in stem cell biology and, more importantly, to be able to communicate our knowledge to the public – especially the younger generation. The Stem Cell Network made it possible for me and many other trainees to pursue this goal.” – Dr. Sepideh Abbasi, Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal

But Abbasi didn’t stop there. She began contributing volunteer hours to StemCellTalks, an outreach program initiated by Stem Cell Network trainees and Let’s Talk Science in 2010 as a way to engage high school students in active debates on issues relevant to stem cell research. Over seven years, she served as an executive member, co-director of the Calgary branch of StemCellTalks and, now, the organization’s national co-chair.

Abbasi’s experiences helped shape a promising career, one that has led her to a new postdoctoral position in the Michel Cayouette lab at the Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal, where she is now turning her expertise towards the goal of retina regeneration to restore vision.