When you talk to Meisam Yousefi, you know that he is someone truly passionate about science. I have enjoyed endless scientific discussions with him, and am glad to contribute part of his PhD project looking at the role of TMEM41B and VMP1 in dengue virus infection. Had a chance to chat with him about what motivated him to do a PhD and his future plans.
1. What made you decide to do a PhD here?
Meisam: I did quite a lot of bioinformatics during my Masters, but am interested to find out how they can be potentially applied to other aspects of science, particularly in infectious diseases. I also enjoyed science and hope to be exposed to other aspects of science beyond bioinformatics, which is why I joined the Duke-NUS Medical School for my PhD.
2. What do you think was the most valuable lesson you have learnt during your PhD?
Meisam: I realised that I like science, and I like it even more when I am doing science that people care about! During my Masters, I was mostly doing computational modelling and working on naive human pluripotent cells. It was fun, but I couldn’t really see how this knowledge can be applied to the real world, which is why I initially thought that bioinformatics alone may be inadequate to make a difference to the real world. However, during my PhD here, I have learnt a lot from my mentor, Ooi Yaw Shin, as well as many others in the department, on how science can contribute in the understanding of infectious diseases. My passion for computational biology re-ignited over my PhD years, and I hope that one day I will be able to use some of my skill sets to make a real difference in the understanding of infectious diseases.
3. Now that you have been exposed to both wet lab and dry lab aspects of science. Which one do you like better?
Meisam: I think I like the dry lab aspect of science better. During my PhD, I figured out why this was so, and this could be related to personality. I realised that I like to see things in a broader picture, which is why data science is very appealing to me, as I can use big data to see things in multiple angles.
4. What do you hope to do in the near future?
Meisam: To be honest, I haven’t thought much about it so my choices are likely to change with time. Right now, I think being able to work at the interface between bioinformatics and infectious diseases would be most ideal. Some examples may include molecular diagnostics which are CRISPR-based, or designing of probes for biomarkers etc.
I appreciate the frank conversations we had over coffee. Talking to him reminds me of my past, where I first started out with wet lab research and transited to more dry lab research as I was also interested in looking at broader aspects of things. His first-author is currently in revision, and sincerely hope he gets through the peer review process, to work on more exciting projects. Looking forward to collaborate with him more and hear more of his stories!