Eck Institute for Global Health faculty member, Shahriar Mobashery, Navari Family Professor in Life Sciences in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, shares why he chose his career path, details of a recent lab reunion, and hopeful future plans.
Q. Tell us a little bit about your research program. How and when did you first become interested in the field?
A. My lab does interdisciplinary biomedical research. I chose this in graduate school as something that I found very stimulating to me intellectually. All along my career, I have nurtured the ability to tackle complex biomedical problems that interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary research can only address. With this common thread to all that we do, my lab has many projects that span discoveries of new antibiotics, elucidation of mechanisms of resistance to antibiotics, bacterial cell wall (biosynthesis and recycling), diseases of extracellular matrix, which include stroke, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, diabetic wound healing, among others.
Q. What do you hope to accomplish with your research?
A. The aspiration for accomplishment is both elucidation of how a given disease progresses and how we as scientists can intervene in the disease at the pharmacological level.
Q. What is your greatest scientific/research achievement to date? Is there a publication you are most proud of?
A. This is nearly impossible to answer. I have published over 370 manuscripts and each one has a special meaning to me. The question is akin to asking one to single out one’s favorite child. This said, I tend to get excited about the latest work that my lab has done. Some of our papers on cell-wall recycling and on discoveries of antibiotics are among the ones that stand out.
Q. What do you find the most rewarding aspect of training students?
A. They are obviously the next generation of scientists and a point of pride as they move on to their own important future work beyond my lab. My lab recently gave a surprise 60th birthday party for me. Former lab members came from Asia, Europe, the West Coast, the East Coast and in between. There were about 50-60 former lab mates. It was a terrific reunion. They gave scientific talks of their own work documenting that they have moved on and are successful. It was a delight.
Q. Do you have any plans for the future? If so, what are they?
A. I have plans all the time! To sustain the progress of the lab, to complete projects and take on new ones. To perhaps see some of our discoveries be translated for clinical use in the future.
Q. Tell us a fun fact about yourself, or something you enjoy doing in your free time. What's it like to balance teaching, conducting research, and home life?
A. I am a distance swimmer. I enjoy hard workouts. The “balance” mentioned is a hard issue to achieve, but one has to work at it.