National Postdoc Appreciation Week: Dr. Michael Hughes dedicates his outside the lab time to his daughter and inside the lab time to developing and helping trainees achieve their goals.

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. Michael Hughes, Research Associate – McNagny Lab

Tell me about your research.

I’m a Research Associate in the Kelly McNagny Group. I have been working to develop new immunotherapies for cancer, trying to understand the mechanisms underlying inflammatory disease in mucosal tissues (like the gut and lung) and exploring how normal gut bacteria (flora) shapes immune response. I am also trying to figure out the genetic and environmental triggers that cause a progressive kidney failure syndrome. Although these seem like diverse interests, there are surprisingly common themes that connect the projects. With links to blood development and transfusion medicine (the place it all started). And, importantly, these aren’t solo efforts! We have teams of trainees at all levels contributing to this work. I do my best to mentor and guide them through the projects. 

What do you do outside the lab?

My wife (also a scientist) and I used to have hobbies, but now we have a 9-year-old daughter. Our outside the lab time is fully dedicated to her activities: swimming, skating, gymnastics, soccer & music lessons. Except for the music lessons, I’m not much help but I very much enjoying watching her learn and grow. I can’t think of a better way to spend my time!

What led you to the lab?

I remember seeing Kelly present at a conference when I was a PhD student. The energy and passion he had for his own research inspired me. When it came time to find a PDF position, he was one of the first labs I looked to. Meeting with his students and PDFs convinced me that he brought that same kind of passion and curiosity to his lab as a mentor. I very much wanted to be a part of that environment.

What do you enjoy most about science?

I love to learn something new every day. I’m thankful that my job is essentially that – doing my best to acquire knowledge and make discoveries. I also very much like mentoring and sharing the joy of learning with trainees. Being a part of trainees’ development and helping them achieve their goals is the most rewarding part of my work.

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