Postdoctoral Research Fellowship

Introducing Mehwish Anwer, Postdoctoral Research Fellow - Dr. Wellington Lab

I am a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the team of Dr. Cheryl Wellington at Centre for Brain Health. I moved to Vancouver in January 2021 and immediately fell in love with this city (mountains, lakes, beaches, food & lovely people – what more to ask for!).

I am broadly interested in understanding the changes in the brain that happen at the level of cells and molecules due to a neurological disorder. My research at UBC is focused on investigating patterns of neuronal activity after Traumatic Brain Injury or Alzheimer’s disease. In Wellington lab, we use an innovative TBI model called CHIMERA that was developed at UBC in collaboration with Dr Peter Cripton’s team. I am also investigating the link between Alzheimer’s disease and the development of PTSD-like fear memory deficits. For these projects, I am using cutting-edge techniques such as Tissue clearing (making tissues transparent) and spatial transcriptomics (in collaboration with Dr. Mark Cembrowski’s team). My work at UBC is supported by funds from the Department of Defense, USA.

Before UBC, I did my PhD studies at University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio (a city in Finland about 400 kms away from the article circle!). I was awarded the prestigious Marie Sklodowska Curie PhD Fellowship by the European Commission to investigate the role of extracellular matrix proteins in development of epilepsy after Traumatic brain injury.

Through this project, I also got the opportunity to work at the Neuropathology department, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, where I first held a human brain in my hands! Before my PhD, I have also worked at United Arab Emirates University where I studied spinal cord injury in experimental models.

I am very inspired by my mentor Dr. Cheryl Wellington’s work on TBI and Alzheimer’s disease pathology. After working with her for almost a year now, I have found her to be not only a great researcher and mentor but also a great human being!

Upon successful completion of my fellowship, I aspire to establish myself as an independent researcher in neurodegenerative diseases as well as contribute to the training of students.

I take great pleasure from my work and enjoy unraveling the mysteries of the human brain! I am always amazed by the complexity of the human brain and the fact that how little we know about it (it is amusing that we use our brain to study BRAIN!). I am happiest on the days where I can spend time on a microscope looking at “transparent” brains and immunolabelled tissue sections.

My work experience in three different continents and multiple diverse cultures, made me a strong advocate of “empowerment through education” and “equity, diversity and inclusion”. I believe that mutual respect and kindness can go a long way. My advice to young students is to undertake inter-disciplinary research. We are in a dire need of finding new ways to answer long standing questions!