CSMB Election results

The Canadian Society for Molecular Biosciences wants to congratulate our newly elected Directors:

  • New Vice-President-Elect: Hans-Joachim (HJ) Wieden, PhD, University of Lethbridge
  • New member of the Board of Directors: Mohan Babu, PhD, University of Regina
  • New member of the Board of Directors: Mojgan Rastegar, PhD, University of Manitoba

New Vice-President-Elect: Hans-Joachim (HJ) Wieden, PhD

Hans-Joachim WiedenProfessor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
DirectorSynBridge (Synthetic Biology Maker Space), University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
DirectorAlberta RNA Research and Training Institute (ARRTI), University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada

Dr. Hans-Joachim Wieden has been a member of the CSMB Board since 2016 and has chaired the conference committee since 2017, developing strategies for future meetings and opportunities to increase revenue for the Society. Working with the leadership team has allowed him to participate in the modernization of the CSMB, and to put the Society on an extremely exciting trajectory. He is dedicated to help continue this development and to contribute to advancing the Society and improving the environment for researchers and trainees in Canada.

In this context, Dr. Wieden’s presidency will have a strong focus on continuing advocacy efforts, ensuring that appropriate funding for Canadian science is available and that we continue to make progress with respect to equity, diversity and inclusion. This is in particular timely given the background of the new challenges that will become visible during (and following) the COVID-19 crisis. For example, challenges that affect scientists from underrepresented groups, parenting scientists and in particular graduate students. With this in mind, it is important that we advocate for addressing these emerging issues in a timely manner to avoid risking what we have already achieved with respect to EDI.

Furthermore, Dr. Wieden is convinced that it will be critical for the Society to provide an inclusive platform for all of our members, to provide ongoing support and to encourage exchange both scientifically as well as through a professional network among its members. As such the development of structures that provide these opportunities beyond the annual meeting will be one of his goals.  Furthermore, Dr. Wieden believes that we as a Society can play a strong role in career development through training, awareness, and mentorship.

Dr. Wieden recognises that in order to achieve our aims, the Society must be footed on a solid and future-proof funding model. Given the recent cancelation of our annual meeting, this is even more critical, constituting another key goal that he would like help to achieve in the role of vice-president.

The CSMB is convinced that Dr. Wieden’s past experience on the Board as well as his work as director of the Alberta RNA Research and Training Institute (ARRTI) together with his cross-disciplinary research and dedication to undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral training provides a strong background to be an effective member of the CSMB executive leadership team.

New member of the Board of Directors: Mohan Babu, University of Regina

Mohan BabuAssociate Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Faculty of Science, University of Regina (UofR), Saskatchewan, Canada

Dr. Mohan Babu has served as a secretary treasurer for the Canadian Society of Microbiology (CSM) for six years (2014-2020), where he oversees operating expenses for the conference, report revenue and any expenses spent (with financial statements prepared after auditing) in each fiscal year (e.g. membership dues, website development), project a conservative budget with future expected expenses, and participate in a monthly teleconference to discuss with society executives how to create revenue sources for operations and plan for an annual conference. Also, Dr. Babu (1) has worked with CSM executives in preparing the profit sharing policy for local organizing committees; (2) created new scholarships, travel and presentation awards for undergraduate or graduate students/ postdoctoral fellows to participate in the annual conference; (3) supported the sponsorship to host the student research day and members’ events at various Canadian universities; and (4) promoted CSM at the international levels by sponsoring awards for student presentations organized by CSM members at international conferences.

Dr. Babu has partnered with EYES (Educating Youth in Engineering and Science) by providing training to girls, aged 9-13, to empower female students and demonstrate the value of science in improving the living conditions of Canadians, as well as finding innovative cures to human disease. In 2013, he founded the “UofR Proteomics and Genomics Facility” to support research labs within and outside the province to address research problems from basic science to clinical and complex systems biology through innovative technologies. Dr. Babu has also offered 3 international (e.g. Italian Proteomics Association) and organized/given 4 provincial (e.g. McGill) workshops to train/ transfer knowledge for students on new proteomics tools in medical research.

As part of “Meet the Experts” session in the XIII Annual Congress of the European Proteomics Association (2019, Germany), Dr. Babu discussed with young investigators the large-scale proteomics design, career prospects, and scientific manuscript writing. Because the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF) funding agency is transforming their research programs, as a university representative, Dr. Babu has engaged in discussion with the Director of Funding Programs, by sharing his ideas to strengthen research capacity and competitiveness in the province, and advocated a need for an increased investment in research and innovation.

Since his term in the CSM is ending in June 2020, Dr. Babu now aims to implement his knowledge and experience into continuing the growth of scientific societies in Canada like CSMB, where he will play an important role in prioritizing a collaborative approach to student’s education and knowledge enhancement. His focus will be to promote and advance the society by bringing in new opportunities through existing or future collaborations with industry, provincial or federal agencies to improve the environment of researchers and trainees. He will also commit to bolstering public outreach through partnerships with groups like EYES, with special emphasis on underrepresented groups. Further, he will continue to increase the implementation of equity, diversity and inclusion through scholarship award programs to maintain research excellence, and support students and trainees who are Canada’s next generation of researchers.

New member of the Board of Directors: Mojgan Rastegar, PhD, University of Manitoba

Mojgan RastegarAssociate Professor, Department of Biochemistry & Medical Genetics, and Regenerative Medicine Program, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, Max Rady College of Medicine, University of Manitoba

Dr. Mojgan Rastegar is an Associate Professor at the Department of Biochemistry and Medical Genetics, and Regenerative Medicine Program, University of Manitoba. She obtained her PhD degree in Biomedical Sciences from the Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL), Brussels, Belgium. Prior to joining the University of Manitoba as a Faculty Member in 2009, she performed postdoctoral training at the Hospital for Sick Children (Toronto, Canada), McGill University (Montreal, Canada), and Indiana University-Purdue University (Indianapolis, USA). Her research program is focused on the role of epigenetics and DNA methylation in stem cell differentiation and neurodevelopmental disorders; including Rett Syndrome. Her independent research has been supported by international and national funding agencies, including International Rett Syndrome Foundation (IRSF), CIHR, NSERC-DG, and Ontario Rett Syndrome Association (ORSA). Last year, Dr. Rastegar’s research was recognized to take a leadership role in Canada for our research on Human Rett Syndrome Brain Tissues, and she established the “Human Rett Syndrome Brain Bio-Repository Laboratory” at the University of Manitoba. This new lab is the Canadian site for Human Rett Syndrome post-mortem brain donations from human patients, and has been developed via donations arranged through ORSA.

Prior to joining the University of Manitoba, Dr. Rastegar’s education, training, and research in Europe, US, and Canada resulted in 14 peer-reviewed published articles, including two papers in Oncogene (2002, 2003), one paper in Molecular & Cellular Biology (2004), two papers in Journal of Biological Chemistry (2005, 2006), and one paper in Cell (2007). Since 2009, she has published 32 original research and review articles, in 18 of them she is the senior corresponding author. Of note, six of these original research manuscripts, where she is the senior author are published since 2018, and appear in reputable Journals (IF: 4.15 to 6.88) (Neuropathology and Applied Neurobiology 2020, Molecular Neurobiology 2020, Scientific Reports 2019, Cancers 2019, International Journal of Molecular Sciences 2019). Dr. Rastegar holds two approved Patents, and she has been an invited speaker in USA, Belgium, France, Germany, Portugal, Montreal, Laval, Hamilton, and Vancouver. She has been an invited Chair at the Society for Neuroscience, Canadian Neuroscience Meeting, and a Symposium Chair and Speaker in FENS 2020, UK (FENS 2020 will take now place virtually due to COVID-19 pandemic). Since 2009, her lab has trained over 50 HQP at the PDF, PhD, MSc, and undergraduate levels. Dr. Rastegar has been a CSMB member since 2010, and currently serves as a Committee Member at Large at the two CSMB Nomination Committee and Awards Committee.

The CSMB is happy to welcome to the board Dr. Rastegar, whose research expertise and history of HQP training will allowto help improving the research environment for scientists and our trainees across Canada, and whose experience in administrative roles will help in advancing the CSMB.