Previous Institution: Harvard College
After finishing high school in Islamabad, Pakistan, I moved to the United States for college and completed my B.A. in Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard. My undergraduate thesis focused on CRISPR/Cas9-based functional analysis of a development-related gene. After graduating, I worked for two years at the Letai laboratory in the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. The project I was involved with aimed to develop a high-throughput assay called Dynamic BH3 Profiling, with the goal of finding novel cancer therapeutics using apoptotic cell death metrics. I performed, optimized and analyzed chemical screens on human tumor samples, patient derived xenografts and mammalian cell lines in order to find combinations of compounds that efficiently kill cancer cells through apoptotic pathways. Our work yielded key functional developments for the assay, along with insights about the effects various classes of compounds have on distinct cancer types.
Moving forward, I am interested in applying molecular and cell biology approaches to zoom in on and understand the intricate mechanisms underlying cancer and human disease. I find the fields of cell death, development and genome instability in the context of disease fascinating and hope to find a project that is both scientifically exciting and challenges me to acquire and apply a diverse skill set. More broadly, my aim is to use my PhD as an opportunity for both rigorous scientific training and personal growth. In addition, I would like to spend my time at Columbia engaging with scientific outreach and teaching, particularly for women and students belonging to developing countries.
Outside of science, I enjoy live music, theatre, cricket, and soccer, and am always on a quest to find good food.