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Welcome Saba Parvez, PhD

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Saba Parvez, PhD

Assistant Professor of Cell & Developmental Biology

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Bio

Saba grew up in rural Assam, a picturesque state in the northeastern corner of India. During high school, he was awarded a scholarship by the Pestalozzi International Village Trust, a UK-based charity that believes in offering life-changing educational opportunities to young people from underprivileged communities around the world. This allowed him to complete his final two years of high school education in the UK and opened the doors to subsequent undergraduate education from Bates College and graduate education from Cornell University. Saba received his PhD in Chemistry and Chemical Biology under the mentorship of Dr. Yimon Aye. During his graduate training as an HHMI International Predoctoral Fellow, he developed novel chemical biology tools to understand how cells and animals use highly reactive redox signals as signaling molecules. He then pursued postdoctoral training in Dr. Randall Peterson’s lab at the University of Utah, where he maintained his interest in developing tools to better understand biological systems. As an American Heart Association postdoctoral fellow, Saba developed Multiplexed Intermixed CRISPR Droplets (MIC-Drop), a platform that enables high-throughput functional genetic screens in whole animals. He has leveraged MIC-Drop to identify novel genes regulating animal development and behavior. Saba’s postdoctoral work earned him a K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award from the National Human Genome Research Institute.

Saba is passionate about teaching and mentoring the next generation of scientists. He has mentored several undergraduate and graduate students, many of whom have gone on to attend graduate school, medical school, or develop successful careers in other professions. Given his personal journey and humble upbringing, he is especially committed to mentoring students and trainees from underprivileged backgrounds.

When not in lab, Saba enjoys spending time with his family, hiking, cooking, and watching sci-fi/fantasy and Bollywood movies.

The Parvez Lab will open its doors on 1st February 2024. The lab will be located on the 8th floor of the Simpson Querrey Biomedical Research Center.

Research Focus

One of the fundamental challenges in developmental biology is to understand how the genome regulates animal development. Although we have made great headway in understanding key genes and pathways regulating development, a detailed and systematic understanding of how a vast majority of the genome regulates animal development is still lacking. This is in part due to the lack of tools to perform large-scale targeted genetic manipulation in whole animals. Recent advances in reverse genetic techniques, such as CRISPR-Cas9, have opened the door for targeted disruption of genomic regions, but scaling up the technique in a whole animal model system has been challenging. During his postdoctoral training, Saba developed Multiplexed Intermixed CRISPR Droplets (MIC-Drop), a platform that enables high-throughput functional genetic screens in zebrafish. MIC-Drop combines multiplexed sgRNAs, microfluidics, DNA barcoding, and single-needle injection of nanodroplets to enable in vivo reverse genetics screens to be performed at a scale previously attainable only in in vitro systems.

The Parvez Lab will leverage this newly-developed tool to understand the functions of various highly conserved noncoding genomic regions in regulating animal development. Much work has been dedicated to understanding the functions of the coding genome. However, the noncoding genome makes up the vast majority of an animal’s genome and remains comparatively underexplored. With a tool like MIC-Drop, we now have the ability to systematically perturb certain noncoding genomic regions in vivo to assess their roles in development.

These exploratory studies will be complemented by the development of more efficient genome editing tools and new phenotyping approaches for a more comprehensive assessment of genome function.

The Parvez Lab is also strongly interested in understanding the underlying molecular mechanisms behind different congenital and developmental disorders and identifying novel therapeutics that suppress disease phenotypes. Towards this goal, we will generate zebrafish models of genetic disorders, characterize their phenotype, and perform high-throughput chemical screens to identify compounds that modify the phenotype, and may serve as leads for future therapeutics.

Publications

See Saba's publications on Google Scholar.

Join Our Lab

The Parvez lab is truly interdisciplinary. The lab’s research programs span the fields of developmental biology, genetics, genomics, and chemical biology.

The Parvez Lab is actively recruiting students, postdoctoral fellows, and research technicians.

 Graduate Students

We welcome graduate students from different programs at Northwestern University including the DGP and the MSTP programs. Students interested in developmental genetics, genomics, and chemical biology, please reach out to Saba with your research interests and a copy of your CV. We will start accepting rotation students in February 2024.

 Postdoctoral Fellows

We are actively recruiting postdoctoral fellows from diverse research backgrounds such as in genomics, molecular and cellular biology, developmental biology, chemistry and chemical biology, etc. If interested, please email Saba an updated CV and a description of your research interests.

 Undergraduate Students

We welcome undergraduates interested in scientific research. Please reach out to Saba with your resume.

 Research Technicians

Available research technician positions will be posted on the Northwestern Human Resources Careers website.

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