National Postdoc Appreciation Week: Dr. Gary Cole shares the importance of finding the right fit as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow

In honour of National Postdoc Appreciation Week (NPAW), we spoke with different Postdoctoral Fellows and Research Associates at the CBR to highlight their research, share their stories and celebrate their journeys.

Dr. Gary Cole – Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Karsan Lab

Tell me about your research.

Many blood cancer patients require a stem cell transplant but are unable to find a donor. One possibility to circumvent the need for donors is generating blood cells by reprogramming the patient’s own healthy cells. I am researching which factors promote blood cell formation during development so that we can improve these protocols.

What led you to the lab?

My wife and I met while we were completing our PhDs in our native Northern Ireland. We discovered pretty early that we both wanted a change and decided to travel. After completing our graduate studies, we applied for visas and moved out to Vancouver although neither of us had a job lined up. I applied for jobs in labs where the research appealed to me and I really admired the work Aly’s [Karsan] lab had been doing in leukemia. I applied for a position as a research assistant before transitioning into a postdoc role about 3 years ago.

What do you do outside the lab?

I have always loved sports and exercising! I try to get to the gym or go jogging 5 times a week. I am also a huge rugby fan and at the moment am spending far too much time following all of the Rugby World Cup results. To relax, I love reading and playing with my cats, Zeus and Apollo.

What advice would you give to someone still searching for a program/Postdoc position?

Finding the right fit is important. The project and the research environment should match up with your skills and also help you develop as a researcher. When you find a lab that could be a good match it can be helpful to attend lab meetings to hear more about the ongoing projects. It’s also an opportunity to talk to some of the lab members to see what training opportunities they have had.

Thank you for speaking with us, Gary! Learn more about National Postdoc Appreciation Week (NPAW) 2023 at UBC which recognizes the significant contributions that postdoctoral scholars make to research and discovery.