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A spirited journey

Growing up in the historical Iranian city of Isfahan, Samar Sayedyahossein, PhD Candidate in Physiology and Pharmacology, showed a keen interest in medicine and science from an early age.

“At the age of four I made sure all my dolls were vaccinated,” she said.

Sayedyahossein completed medical school at the Isfahan University of Medical Sciences in 2007, discovering a passion for the pathophysiology of disease along the way. She aspired to be a clinician scientist, realizing the advantages of a partnership between the basic and clinical sciences.

Sayedyahossein came to Canada in 2008 to pursue her master’s degree with the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry. “I decided to explore the world of science where it is practised at its high level,” she said.

In 2010, she began her doctoral studies with the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at the School. Under supervisor Lina Dagnino, PhD, Sayedyahossein studies skin structure and barrier function.

Her research focuses on the role of an adaptor protein, integrin-linked kinase, in skin integrity and barrier function. She tries to understand the mechanisms that are involved with skin infections, as well as impaired integrity and defective barrier function, including skin blistering diseases. “The findings of our research have a great potential to revolutionize therapies for patients with compromised skin barriers,” she explained.

Sayedyahossein credits her PhD program at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry with the skills needed to achieve her research goals. “I wanted a program that valued strong research collaboration and high-quality research facilities,” she said.

The international culture at the School also appealed to her. “I faced a totally new culture, new language and new academic setting, and Western provided me with great support that facilitated my transition,” she said.  “The campus is also located in a beautiful multicultural Canadian city, with an amazing natural setting and environment.”

The PhD candidate hopes for a career in translational research, continuing to link basic science at the bench side with successful therapies at the bedside.

“The spirit of respect, collaboration, teamwork and drive for excellence flows through the School every day,” she said. “This has helped my research flourish and given me the insight, knowledge, attitude and perseverance that will have a lasting impact on my personal and professional life.”