UBC doctoral student receives prestigious Schmidt Science Fellowship

Adi Steif, a graduand of UBC’s Doctor of Philosophy in Genome Science and Technology, in the Faculty of Science, is one of the 14 members of the inaugural 2018-2019 class of Schmidt Science Fellows. This unique postdoctoral program, focused on scientific leadership and interdisciplinary research, is aimed at providing the next generation of leaders and innovators with the tools and opportunities to drive world-changing advances across the sciences and society.

“Selection as a Schmidt Science Fellow is an incredible honour and a great opportunity for Adi and all of the students selected from leading universities around the world. It is exciting to see the fellowship’s focus on interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation as a way of building future scientific leaders,” said Gail Murphy, UBC’s Vice-President, Research and Innovation.

The 2018 class of Fellows is:

  • Karl Barber (Yale University)
  • Fahim Farzadfard (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
  • Wesley Fuhrman (Johns Hopkins University)
  • Xiwen Gong (University of Toronto)
  • Yogesh Goyal (Princeton University)
  • Peyton Greenside (Stanford University)
  • Abigail Groff (Harvard University)
  • Hallie Holmes (University of Washington)
  • Jina Ko (University of Pennsylvania)
  • Frederick Richards (Cambridge University)
  • Mattia Serra (ETH Zurich)
  • Adi Steif (University of British Columbia)
  • Ryan Truby (Harvard University)
  • Jielai Zhang (University of Toronto)

Steif, a Vanier scholarship recipient, has already established herself as an exceptional cancer researcher. While doing her PhD research at the BC Cancer Agency, she made substantive contributions in the fields of breast cancer evolution and methods for single-cell whole-genome sequencing.

“I was incredibly fortunate to have had amazing mentors and collaborators as a PhD student. My co-supervisors Dr. Sohrab Shah and Dr. Sam Aparicio created an environment where interdisciplinary and collaborative research was encouraged. They brought together researchers with diverse expertise – molecular biologists, computer scientists, statisticians, engineers – to develop new tools and gain insight into cancer biology,” she said.

In addition to the Schmidt Science Fellowship, Steif has also received a Junior Research Fellowship at Trinity College, Cambridge, where she will be completing the first component of the Schmidt Science Fellowship program—an 11-month or longer research study in a laboratory at one of a number of leading scientific research universities around the world.

“For my postdoc, I will contribute to the Mutographs of Cancer Project, a large collaborative study that aims to advance our understanding of the causes of cancer,” said Steif. The project, funded by Cancer Research UK, will involve an international team of collaborators led by Professor Sir Mike Stratton.

“We will be studying the genomes of 5000 kidney, pancreatic, oesophageal and bowel cancers from patients across five continents, and this will help us elucidate the range of mutational processes that underlie cancer development, and potentially explain geographic differences in cancer incidence around the world,” she added.

Fellows will later come together for four global meetings, the first of which will be held at the University of Oxford, which Steif is especially excited for. “We will participate in four workshops at universities around the world, aimed at developing leadership skills and encouraging interdisciplinary collaboration.”

The Schmidt Science Fellows, in partnership with the Rhodes Trust, is the first initiative of Schmidt Futures, which works to advance scientific knowledge, drive the transformation of society through technology, and promote shared prosperity.

Written with information from Forbes and Cision PR Newswire.

Friday, 04 May 2018