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Isar Nassiri


Isar is a postdoctoral researcher in the Fairfax lab.

In this interview, Isar gives an insight into his work using the latest genomics technologies, touches on some of the challenges involved, and talks about his career and some of his achievements so far.

What is the focus of your research?

I am a postdoctoral researcher with Dr. Benjamin Fairfax. We use multi-omics datasets (e.g. genotyping, transcriptomics, methylation data, clinical data) across different conditions to provide novel insights into the context-specific role of genetic effects in immune cells. I am working on cutting-edge problems based on diverse data sets, ranging from primary non-clinical data, to samples from cancer patients on immunotherapy, using the latest genomics technologies.

Are there any particular challenges?

A particular challenge is that we do not have standard protocols for most of the research questions; therefore, I must review available tools and methods to develop proper workflows. I am currently working with the group to make our flow-cytometry data more amenable to bioinformatic analysis, increasing reproducibility and ease of dissemination.

Why does your research matter?

Persistent inflammatory and abnormal immune responses are critical to numerous severe disease processes, especially cancer. We apply genetic factors to explain the variance between the patient and control samples in particular contexts. Our findings provide novel insights into the determinants of regulation of the transcriptional machinery in immune cells, such as genetics, age and, in the case of patients, treatments, with relevance to complex disease processes.

What’s it like in the lab? What’s one of the more interesting techniques you are using?

I enjoy working in a collaborative research group including DPhil students, Biologists and Clinician-scientists. I especially enjoy working with Benjamin who is really a multi-disciplinary person.

I am mainly interested to the diversity of the techniques which we use in analysis. The more interesting approaches we’re currently employing include data integration and modelling methods for multi-omics datasets, including single cell data across cancer patients post treatment.

How did you get to this point in your career? Is there any input/support from others you have particularly valued?

Fortunately, I have a consistent education and work experience in Genetics (MSc), Bioinformatics (Ph.D.), Computer science (Researcher at COSBI, Italy), and Biostatics (postdoc associate USA), which are necessary for my present rules.

I have had great mentors and a supportive family. I designed and implemented NASFInder tool under the direct supervision of Prof. Corrado Priami, CMEA, and SRGnet R packages with memorable mentoring of Prof. Matthew N. McCall, and I am successfully working on four projects in parallel under close supervision and collaboration of Benjamin.

What motivates you as a postdoc?

The thing that really inspires me is concordance of biological results in similar condition using different types of experimental technology. The key message is current high throughput technologies have reached a considerable level of accuracy, which makes principles of reasoning applicable to discover robust, critical determinants of a condition.

A unique opportunity to learn and work on a wide gamut of different types of omics data motives me and sometimes is challenging.

Outside of work, what do you do to relax?

I improve my self-confidence by a series of personal studies about epistemology and human nature. I try to learn and practice principles of the process of thinking as the deepest need and profound pleasure possible to man.