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I am a multidisciplinary person with a background and experience working in clinic, epidemiology and molecular biology. During studying Medicine, I became interested in molecular biology and the genetic mechanisms that govern disease initiation and progression. After graduation as MD, I worked at Mashhad University of Medical Sciences (Iran) for 5 years, where I was involved in both clinic and research, in particular human genetics. In 2011, I received a full scholarship to pursue my PhD abroad and I therefore moved to the Netherlands. I did my MSc and PhD in Molecular and Genetic Epidemiology at the department of Epidemiology in Erasmus MC, which I defended in July 2017. I am currently an assistant professor and the principal investigator of Molecular and Systems Epidemiology in Erasmus MC, where I am coordinating various molecular and omics data in the Rotterdam Study (~15,000 elderly subjects) and the Erasmus Rucphen Family (ERF) study. My research focuses on the identification and characterization of genetic determinants for complex traits and diseases (including cardiovascular, liver and neurodegenerative diseases) by integrating population-based omics data and functional validation studies in the lab. During the last years, the multidisciplinary aspect of my research allowed me to establish close collaborations with several departments (e.g., Immunology, Gastroenterology, Neuroscience and Genetic identification) within the Erasmus MC. Moreover, I collaborate with various national and international consortia (e.g., BBMRI-NL and CHARGE consortium) and academic institutions (e.g., Imperial College London and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health). Currently, I lead a research group of 6 PhD and MSc students and teach in multiple courses on genetics of complex disorders offered by the Netherlands Institute of Health Sciences (NIHES) in Erasmus MC. During the last 2 years, I have co-promoted one PhD thesis and supervised 3 MSc and 1 DSc theses. I have over 35 publications in various peer-reviewed international journals (H-index = 15).
Positions and Honors
2019-present: Assistant Professor, Department of Epidemiology, Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
2017-2019: Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Epidemiology, Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
2012-2017: PhD Student, Department of Epidemiology, Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
2011-2012: Research Fellow, Department of Hematology, Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
2006-2011: Academic staff and Scientific researcher, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran • Full scholarship for 4 years PhD, Iranian Ministry of Health and Medical
- Full scholarship for 4 years PhD, Iranian Ministry of Health and Medical Education, 2011
- Internationale Stichting Alzheimer Onderzoek (ISAO), Attending to ASHG conference, 2015
- Alzheimer Netherlands, Attending to ASHG conference, 2015
- Uitzicht grant (microRNAs and eye disorders), part of the research team, 2015
- European Society of Human Genetics Fellowship (Genetic Counselling courses), 2016
- Erasmus TrustFonds, Attending to ESHG conference, 2016
- European Fellowship to Study Diabetes (EFSD), 2018
- Alzheimer Netherlands Fellowship, 2018
- The Janssen Prevention Center (JPC), Age-related biomarkers, Co-Investigator, 2017-2018
Contributions to Science
Genome-wide association studies have been successful to define a large number of genetic variants in multiple loci associated with complex traits and diseases. However, precise annotation of genes and identification of the causal variants remain challenging. I try to elucidate the role of non-coding variants in the pathogenesis of age-related diseases by implementing and integrating various in-silico, in-vitro (cell culture models) and in-vivo (animal models) studies. In 2012, I was one of the pioneers to combine population-based omics data and experimental validation studies to identify novel microRNAs for age-related disorders. This resulted in the identification of several microRNAs for cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. Results from my research were published in multiple papers in well-respected genetic journals and my method has so far been used in several studies and received many citations.