We are pleased to announce that Dr Ian Tobias has won a Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellowship to pursue research at Professor Jennifer Mitchell’s laboratory in Cell & Systems Biology. He will study how growth of stem cells differs between species.

Dr Tobias will examine regions of DNA called enhancers that can turn genes off and on without changing the protein they control. The evolution of new traits between species is known to mainly occur by alterations in regions of DNA (including enhancers) that are found outside of genes. Dr Tobias will determine whether activators that bind to enhancers have changed as animals evolved into different species, and how this affects the development of stem cells into the organs of the body. This follows on from his PhD work, where Dr Tobias demonstrated that the signals in the cellular environment that support stem cells are different in dogs compared with mice and humans.

This research has important implications for using stem cells to treat humans using regenerative medicine; with many stem cell studies conducted in worms, fish or mice, it is important to understand differences between species to unlock potential stem cell therapies for humans.

The goal of the Provost Postdoctoral Fellowship is to increase opportunities for hiring postdoctoral fellows from underrepresented groups, specifically Indigenous and/or Black researchers, and strengthen the research environment at the University with diverse perspectives. Dr Tobias is a member of the Chippewas of Nawash First Nation.