An Interview with Dr. Parvin Bolourani, CBR Education Program Manager


Written by: Sia Cecilia Jan-Abu, MSc Student, McNagny Lab


Dr. Parvin Bolourani is the Education Program Manager at the Centre for Blood Research (CBR). She implements, coordinates, organizes, and oversees all aspects of the Centre’s educational programs, including the CBR Summer Studentship Program, Graduate Award Program, professional development initiatives, outreach, and alumni engagement.


How did you get interested in science?

I love science and everything related to it. My favourite subject has always been biology. During my PhD, I worked on the RAS signalling pathway in the model organism Dictyostelium discoideum. RAS signaling is an important intracellular pathway that plays a pivotal role in proliferation, differentiation, and gene expression. The RAS oncoprotein has also been involved in the development of cancer by increased or continued signaling mechanism that are key regulators of normal cell growth.

My PhD, along with my Master’s and undergraduate research projects, have allowed me to think critically and learn new topics within science. The fascination and excitement I felt with every new learning is something I hope all students can experience.

One of my nicest memories was getting feedback on an assignment from a teacher who said, “I can see you going far in science”. Overall, I would say my general interest and love for science, coupled with all the encouragement I received throughout my studies, made me excited to build my career in this area.


How did you get into your current work at the CBR?

I started my journey at UBC as a PhD student in the department of Microbiology and Immunology (MBIM). After my PhD and a period of Postdoctoral Fellow and Research Associate positions, I then transitioned into my role as a Postdoctoral Affairs, Outreach and Alumni Engagement Coordinator in MBIM.

Over the years, I have had the privilege of attending many CBR events and collaborating with CBR faculty and staff. I loved the collegiality and dedication of CBR members, so when the opportunity for the CBR Education Program Manager role arose, I joined the Centre to start the next phase of my journey.


What does a typical day in your role look like?

My job is multi-faceted and is interesting in that every day, there is something new.

A typical day entails a combination of classes and workshops, meetings with postdocs, students, staff, and faculty, listening to the community’s needs, and organizing events and educational programming that will be interesting and useful to them.

My role as Education Program Manager allows me to work very closely with students in a leadership and mentorship capacity. I encourage and help them follow their own path, with the hope that they will pay it forward in similar ways as alumni in the future.


Was this the career path you imagined early on in your education?

I always enjoyed being in an academic environment and contributing to the professional development of trainees. Since the beginning of my career, I’ve known that I liked working with diverse groups from all levels of education. Although I was initially more involved in teaching and research, I learned over the years that my passion was helping others strengthen their professional development and find their paths in the academic community.

Mentorship and professional development are very important to me. I am very thrilled to be guiding students to discover what they are good at and helping them find their careers.


Can you describe the transition from wet lab research to a more administrative and managerial role?

Although the roles were quite different, there were a lot of transferrable skills. I also had great mentors that I could turn to along the way which allowed for a seamless transition. I received so much encouragement and support which was very useful. Mentorship is something that has always been important in my career; a little word of encouragement goes a long way.


Since the beginning of my career, I’ve known that I liked working with diverse groups from all levels of education… Mentorship and professional development are very important to me. I am very thrilled to be guiding students to discover what they are good at and helping them find their careers.

— Dr. Parvin Bolourani


How did you maintain a healthy work-life balance during your studies?

I have tried to maintain a balance throughout my life although most of my attention to work-life balance came after my PhD. I think one reason for that was the impression that if you are studying, then your job is to just study! However, I have learned that prioritizing our health doesn’t have to come at the cost of compromising our work. It can be as simple as daily meditation or exercise during the workday. 

Fortunately, at UBC, there has been a greater emphasis on health and wellbeing, as well as the importance of work-life balance over the years. I proudly oversee the CBR Health & Wellbeing Committee. With the great effort of Committee members, we plan workshops and events dedicated to promoting healthy lifestyles. If any of our trainees are interested in joining this Committee, please feel free to reach out to me. Overall, I believe in placing emphasis on our physical and mental health in whichever journey of life we are in.


What excites you about your job?

Every day is different! There’s always something to learn and someone new to meet, and I look forward to that every day. Running a successful event that has been planned for weeks or months is one of the most special parts of my job. Seeing the CBR community come together – whether it is for a workshop, symposium, gingerbread house making event, or health and wellbeing get-togethers – it is always lovely to know I had a part in making that happen.


What is your advice to trainees who want to go down a similar path as you?
  • Try to broaden your skills beyond your area of research; your passion may lie in areas you may not expect.
  • Have a work-life balance, take care of your health and well-being; that should be one of your top priorities.
  • Network! Reach out to people in your research area or areas that interest you. It could be a connection on LinkedIn, a simple email, or attending career fairs.
  • Leave your options open and don’t be scared of change. Embrace it.
  • Believe in yourself, and love what you do. If you come across a roadblock or obstacle, find another solution. Be resilient and never give up.
  • Find good mentors and be a mentor one day!


What award or achievement are you most proud of?

One of my most recent memorable awards is the President’s Staff Awards in the category of Enhancing the UBC Experience. This award focuses on leaving a long-lasting impression on our community. This award gave me the confirmation that I have been able to have a positive impact within my community and made me more motivated to leverage my role to make everyone feel welcome while supporting trainees reach their potential.

Furthermore, I have been very proud of all the events and programs that we are running at CBR. It is great to know that these programs foster community and help students reach their full potential.


What brings you joy?

Good chats with colleagues and friends, and visiting neighbourhood coffeeshops! You can always find me in a café or walking outside and enjoying the weather.


What else would you like to add?

I like to build strong relationships with our members, so please drop by! I love meeting current and new CBR members and I’m always here to chat and learn about you and your research.