Michael Steffen Kobor, PhD
Edwin S.H. Leong UBC Chair in Healthy Aging – A UBC President’s Excellence Chair
Investigator, BC Children's Hospital
Dr. Michael Kobor is a Professor in the Department of Medical Genetics at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and The Edwin S.H. Leong UBC Chair in Healthy Aging — a UBC President’s Excellence Chair. He has received many distinctions, including a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Social Epigenetics and an appointment as Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) Child and Brain Development Program. Until recently, Dr. Kobor served as the Sunny Hill BC Leadership Chair in Early Child Development, as well as the Director for Healthy Starts at BC Children's Hospital Research Institute. Dr. Kobor’s world-class, interdisciplinary research program employs a “society-to-cell” framework to better understand the mechanisms by which environmental exposures and life experiences can “get under the skin” to affect health and behaviour across the life course.
When he is not busy with research, Dr. Kobor enjoys spending time at home and travelling with his wife, son, and family dog.
Paola Arguello Pascualli
My academic formation started in Mexico where I am from, studying a BSc in Genomic Sciences at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). During my undergrad I had the opportunity to explore different research areas and fell in love with epigenetics. Currently, I am a graduate student in Medical Genetics co-supervised by Dr. Kobor and Dr. Dennis at UBC. There is a tremendous gap in genetic information for non-European populations, leaving a large proportion of the world behind in the personalized genomic medicine revolution. My research focuses on understanding the role of genetic admixture in biomedical predictors and how can we use this knowledge to bridge the gap in information for underrepresented populations.
I love dancing and tequila, even though I'm probably the worst dancer you'll ever know.
MITACS Globalink Graduate Fellowship Award
Friedman Award for Scholars in Health
I completed my undergraduate studies at Simon Fraser University (SFU), majoring in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and pursued a graduate advanced certificate in Genomics and Bioinformatics. I am also, pursuing my Master's in Data Science at Eastern University. I have been working in the medical research field for the past ten years. I have been solely involved in two research projects at Dr. William Davidson's Genetic Lab, focusing on the TEAD3 and Vgll3 protein interaction in Atlantic Salmon to determine the maturity of a fish. I was also involved in Dr. Tim Audas's Lab, where I examined stress-specific DNA elements that drive the expression of the rINGS RNAs in Alzheimer's disease. I currently work closely with our Tech Research team and our collaborators to assess DNA methylation and gene expression patterns in human cells while assisting with planning and designing experiments, analyzing and compiling data, and preparing study reports. I have mainly been in charge of the DNA extraction projects (blood, blood spots, buccal and saliva).
In my free time I like to go out with friends, go for walks, and watch movies!
During my undergraduate at UBC, I completed work terms in government and industry labs. After graduating with a BSc in Biology, I joined Dr. Sally Otto’s lab at UBC as a research technician, working on projects investigating the pleiotropic effects of adaptation to metals and complex environments via experimental evolution with yeast. As an MSc student in the Kobor lab, I am interested in using yeast as a model organism to investigate the role of histone variant H2A.Z in gene regulation in response to stress.
Outside of the lab, I enjoy playing video games, checking out new food spots, and going to concerts.
I have a BSc in Biology from Dalhousie University with a focus in molecular evolution and ecology. My current research focuses on H2A.Z, an evolutionary conserved histone variant that modifies chromatin dynamics and is required for a wide variety of cellular functions. In particular, I am using budding yeast as a model organism to inspect how H2A.Z regulation is driven by its unique amino acid sequence, histone chaperones, and the ATP-dependent chromatin remodeler SWR1-C.
When I'm not in the lab, you can find me playing soccer, hiking, camping, or binge-watching nerdy TV shows.
UBC Four Year Fellowship
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Postgraduate Scholarships-Doctoral
UBC Medical Genetics Graduate Support Initiative Award
Canadian Institutes of Health Research Canada Graduate Scholarship-Master’s
Meingold Chan, PhD
I received my undergraduate degree in Social Sciences, majoring in Psychology and Counselling, from the University of Hong Kong. I received my Master of Philosophy in Social and Developmental Psychology from the University of Cambridge, working with Prof. Claire Hughes. I completed my PhD in Human Development and Family Science at The Ohio State University, working with Dr. Xin Feng. My doctoral work focused on cultural differences in emotion socialization and preschoolers’ socioemotional development across China (Beijing and Hong Kong) and the United States. As a postdoctoral fellow in the Kobor lab, I am currently expanding my research to understand the effect of early social experience on children’s socioemotional development through the changes in DNA methylation and epigenetic aging with a specific focus on racial and cultural diversity. My research goal is to further our understanding of the universality and specificity of the impact of social environment on children’s health, development, and epigenetics across race/ethnicity/culture.
“Society to Cell” Clyde Hertzmann Memorial Fellowship
BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute Healthy Starts Postdoctoral Studentship
Kristy Dever, MSc
I have a BSc. in Biology and an MSc. in Medical Genetics from UBC. I obtained my Master's in the Kobor lab where my research used yeast as a model organism to study transcription regulation, specifically focusing on RNA Polymerase II and the phosphatase Fcp1.
I then transition to a Research Technician position in the Kobor lab and work with Julie and Parmida to run the DNA methylation and genotyping arrays. We work with collaborators around the world and run a wide variety of sample types, and run thousands of arrays per year.
Outside the lab, I enjoy hiking, skiing, reading, running, and spending time with my friends and family.
I am a biostatistician with more than six years of experience in analyzing and interpreting omics data. I specialize in using high dimensional genomic, epigenomic, and clinical data to derive various population-based tests.
I hold a Bachelor of Biotechnology from Huazhong Agriculture University in Wuhan, China and I completed my Master's in Human Biology at Fudan University and Computational Chemistry at Southern Methodist University. I enjoy eating, hiking, travelling and reading books!
I received my bachelors in Biochemistry from Willamette University. After graduating, I moved to California where I first worked in fermentation sciences at a brewery and then moved to Stanford as a research associate in the Wang Lab studying the role of antibodies in disease response. Now at UBC, my research focuses on the role of epigenetics, specifically DNA methylation, in immune system development using bioinformatics and mouse models.
In my free time you can find me outside (running, hiking, camping or skiing) or in the kitchen cooking or baking something tasty!
“Society to Cell” Clyde Hertzmann Memorial Fellowship
BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute Healthy Starts Doctoral Studentship
BC Graduate Student Scholarship
Hannah-Ruth Engelbrecht, MSc
I am a South African student who made the leap across the hemispheres to begin my PhD at UBC. I completed my undergraduate training in Human Physiology, and Genetics, and then decided to pursue an MSc(Med) in Human Genetics, specialising in bipolar disorder, all at the University of Cape Town. My current work focuses on perturbations to human health across the lifespan, and the impact of such disturbances on DNA methylation. One goal is to determine whether biomarkers of healthy aging and longevity can be identified at the DNA methylation level.
Beyond the lab, I enjoy hiking, baking, dancing, reading, and writing. I'm also looking forward to indulging in my new passion for snow and cold weather!
UBC Four Year Fellowship
I manage the administration of the various research activities taking place in the lab. I particularly enjoy supporting the many exciting, multidisciplinary collaborations we have with partners from all over the world. In my spare time, I like spending time with family and friends over a good meal and a new board game, hitting the gym together in the wee hours of the morning, and taking in our beautiful city while cruising the seawall.
I have a BSc in Biochemistry from UBC. Currently, I am a Master's student in the Kobor Lab and my research focuses on the relationship between maternal nutrition and child developmental outcomes. Using statistical models, I analyze DNA methylation data to explore the biology underlying the DOHaD (Developmental Origins of Health and Disease) hypothesis. I am also developing statistical tools in optimizing microarray data analysis. I enjoy coding and its usage in identifying patterns too complicated to be directly observed by the human mind.
My hobbies include snowboarding, listening to music, playing board games, and traveling!
Genome Science and Technology Rotation Award
Marcia Jude, MSc
I received my undergraduate degree in Biotechnology from Anna University, India. More recently, I completed my Master's degree in the Experimental Medicine program from the University of British Columbia (UBC) under the supervision of Dr. Janice Leung.
My research was focused on understanding how people living with HIV were increasingly susceptible to chronic lung diseases like COPD by examining the microbiome, transcriptome and epigenome in a multiomic fashion. Outside the lab, I host a neuroscience-based podcast (AMINDR), and I also volunteer with the Canadian Red Cross and Big Sisters of Lower Mainland BC.
In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my friends, binge-watching Netflix and baking!
Alan Kerr, MRes
After receiving a BSc (Honours) in Molecular Biology at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, I spent 2 years as a research assistant at the Department of Genetics at the same university. I then moved to Japan to follow my other passion -- Aikido -- where I began editing and rewriting biomedical research papers for local groups while also working in pharma-IT. After more than a decade in Asia, I went back to school in the UK and received a Master's in Bioinformatics from York University with a placement in a genome mapping project at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge.
In the Kobor Lab, I make use of 30+ years of scientific editing experience to facilitate the writing and publication of the group’s research, and help out where I can on the IT side.
Outside of science, I teach Aikido and play upright bass with a number of local artists and as a recording session musician.
Alyssa Kirlin, MSc
Prior to coming to UBC, I received a BSc and an MSc in Biochemistry from Queen’s University. My research focuses on characterizing the functions of YEATS family proteins in yeast and understanding the role these proteins play in chromatin modifying complexes. I am very interested in science communication and science policy.
Outside of the lab, I enjoy baking, board games, and softball.
NSERC Post-Graduate Scholarship
UBC Four Year Fellowship
Chaini Konwar, PhD
I have a PhD in Medical Genetics from the University of British Columbia. My thesis work largely involved understanding molecular variation in placenta associated with inflammation in preterm births. Briefly, I compared molecular marks such as DNA methylation, miRNA, and SNP profiles in placentas from preterm deliveries with and without inflammation. My dissertation laid the groundwork for development of placental-derived biomarkers that could be detected in maternal blood when the inflammation is present.
Currently, as a bioinformatician in the Kobor Lab I work on a myriad of research projects mainly focused on understanding molecular variation in multiple tissues across human populations. Using computational tools in the R programming environment I analyze high dimensional epigenetic, genetic and expression data to understand the impact of early life experiences, with a special focus on social environmental influences on overall child development and adult health outcomes. I am also working closely with our bioinformatics team to ensure data integrity and devise methods for optimal large-scale genomic data management. In addition, I provide mentorship to computation biology trainees, research personnel, and graduate students, and interact with collaborators on a regular basis.
Aside from my computer, I am particularly passionate about cooking, eating, traveling and learning about different cultures!
Adithya V. Kumar
I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a BSc in Behavioural Neuroscience in 2022, and currently serve as the Research Coordinator for both the Kobor Lab and Edwin S.H. Leong Healthy Aging Program. Prior to working in this position, I gained experience in clinical and behavioural research through my work as a Research Assistant in the UBC Department of Emergency Medicine for the COVID-19 Emergency Department Rapid Response Network, a national research initiative to standardize diagnostic and treatment decisions for patients with COVID-19, as well as in biochemical research examining sex differences in the stress response as a Research Assistant for the Viau Lab in the UBC Department of Cellular and Physiological Sciences.
In my free time, I love bingeing new TV shows, reading fiction, collecting records, and traveling with friends and family!
Paula Littlejohn, PhD
I currently am a Postdoctoral Research Fellow co-supervised by Dr. Michael Kobor and Dr. Bruce Vallance at the University of British Columbia & BC Children’s Research Institute. I received my Ph.D. in microbiology & immunology from UBC in the lab of Dr. Brett Finlay, where I developed the first animal model to examine the impact of postnatal exposure to multiple micronutrient deficiencies on the gut microbiome and gut resistome (collection of antibiotic resistance genes and their mechanisms). Presently my work focus on understanding the role of maternal and postnatal nutrition in modulating epigenetic changes that have long-lasting effects. Additionally, I focus on discovering epigenetic signatures that contribute to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in children and adults using a model system and how these might be used as clinical biomarkers for diagnosis, prognosis, and nutritional therapeutic response.
As a wife and mom of 5, I enjoy spending time with my family, baking, walking, watching epic movies and learning Mandarin.
BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship
Julie MacIsaac, PhD
Lab Manager and Research Scientist
I am involved in many aspects of lab operations. My main job, however, together with David and our other technicians, is to keep the array pipeline running smoothly. We run thousands of DNA methylation and genotyping arrays yearly for collaborators all around the world and in Canada. I have a BSc in Cell and Molecular Biology from Colorado State University and an MSc (focused on multifactorial neural tube defects) and PhD (focused on genetic imprinting) in Medical Genetics from the University of British Columbia.
When I am not in the lab I enjoy playing basketball, traveling, and spending time with my family.
Mandy Meijer, PhD
I received both my BSc and MSc in Biomedical Sciences from the Leiden University Medical Center (The Netherlands), followed by a PhD from the Radboud University (The Netherlands) in Medical Sciences under supervision of Prof. Dr. Barbara Franke and Prof. Dr. Carmen Sandi. My doctoral thesis aimed to better understand externalizing behaviours and associated neurodevelopmental disorders through studying epigenetic mechanisms, as a link between the genome and environment, across species. More specifically, I studied DNA methylation and histone tail modifications.
I spent two years of my PhD trajectory at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (Switzerland) to perform research. As a postdoctoral fellow in the Kobor lab, I am extending my previous research by aiming to better understand which genetic and environmental factors contribute to early development, and how epigenetics could inform us on the molecular mechanisms in the brain underlying neurodevelopment and externalizing behaviours. Besides performing the actual research, I am very passionate about science outreach.
When I am not working on exciting science, you can find me dancing (swing, ballet, jazz) or baking cookies and cakes (and sharing them with friends)!
“Society to Cell” Clyde Hertzmann Memorial Fellowship
I am a graduate student in Bioinformatics at UBC, co-supervised by Dr. Michael Kobor and Dr. Keegan Korthauer. I hold a B.Sc. degree in Biology from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). Prior to joining Kobor’s and Korthauer’s lab, I worked in epigenetic-related projects involving mainly the analysis of transcriptomic data in Mexico’s National Cancerology Institute.
Currently, I am interested in how, and under which conditions, individual genetic susceptibility and environmental factors work together or separately to influence DNA methylation in early life, a very sensitive and plastic human stage. To do so, I am developing a bioinformatic framework to identify Variable Methylated Regions, and modelling the contribution of the genotype and the environment to their variation.
Outside the lab, my hobbies include practicing archery, hiking, trying new food, playing board games and dancing!
“Society to Cell” Clyde Hertzmann Memorial Fellowship
Bank of Montreal Graduate Fellowship
Gertrude Langridge Graduate Scholarship in Medical Sciences
Patrick David Campbell Graduate Fellowship
Joanne Whitehead, PhD
After earning a BSc in Microbiology from the University of Victoria, I completed a PhD in Developmental Biology at Uppsala University in Sweden, focused on the epigenetic regulation of imprinted genes in development and cancer, particularly the role of the chromatin-binding protein CTCF. During my postdoctoral work with a biophysics team at the Curie Institute in Paris, funded by a Marie Curie Fellowship, I initiated studies of the role of mechanical strains in tumourigenesis in a mouse colon cancer model. Later I returned to UVic and started working in bioinformatics in a salmon genomics lab. Now I am excited to be returning to the field of epigenomics, and turning my attention to bioinformatics with respect to human health, nutrition and early life exposures.
When not working, you will find me volunteering with various Early Music organizations in Victoria and on Salt Spring Island, and spending time with my wonderful family!
Beryl Zhuang, MSc
I have an MSc in Bioinformatics from the University of British Columbia. My thesis work focused on identifying potential common underlying mechanisms of disease initiation and progression across mouse models of Alzheimer's disease from public datasets. At the Kobor Lab, I work closely with our bioinformatics team and our students on various projects and collaborations. I am interested in studying the impacts of positive events in early life on DNA methylation and its short- and long-term impacts on health.
In my free time, I enjoy baking, gardening, and going on nature walks with friends and family.
I received my BSc in Microbiology from University of California, Davis. After graduation, I joined the Gladstone Institutes in San Francisco, studying the mechanisms of congenital heart diseases. My interest in computational biology and "big data" motivated me to join the GSAT program at UBC. In Kobor Lab, I'm interested in gene-environment interaction in the context of Parkinson's Disease (PD). My favorite part of the project is using statistics and programming skills to answer biological questions. Outside of lab, I enjoy card games and sampling food from all over the world.
Smruthi Ramachandran, MSc
I have a BSc in Biology and an MSc in Rehabilitation Sciences from the University of British Columbia. For my thesis, I managed a trial examining the feasibility of an mHealth intervention for self-managing knee osteoarthritis through physical activity. As a Project Coordinator at the Kobor Lab, my focus is on initiating and managing the Wildfire Study. This project explores the potential effects of prenatal exposure to wildfire disasters on biological markers at birth as well as the long-term health, development, and behaviour of children.
In my spare time, I enjoy weight training, hiking, reading, exploring new food spots around town, and spending time with my dog, friends, and family!
We are very proud of the continuing success of all former Kobor Lab members!
Current positions are up to date to the best of our knowledge. If you have updated information, please let us know!
Former Postdoctoral Fellows
Maria Aristizabal, PhD, Assistant Professor in Molecular Genetics, Queen's University, Kingston, ON
Timothy Bredy, PhD, Associate Professor, Queensland Brain Institute, Brisbane, Australia (First position after leaving the Kobor Lab: Assistant Professor, University of California Irvine, CA, USA)
Rachel Clifford, PhD, Senior Research Fellow, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK (First position after leaving the Kobor Lab: Research Fellow, University of Nottingham, UK)
Anke Hüls, PhD, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology & Environmental Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA. PhD, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA
Meaghan Jones, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB
Linda Lee, PhD, Lab Specialist I, Alberta Precision Laboratories, Calgary, AB
Sarah Merrill, PhD, Research Fellow, The Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University, Providence, RI, USA
Sarah Moore, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Calgary, AB
Eric Thibodeau, PhD: Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Minnesota, MN, USA
Former Graduate Students
Josh Brown, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Dr. LeAnn Howe Lab, UBC, Vancouver, BC
Evan Gatev, PhD (Bioinformatics), PhD (Finance) at Yale, Associate Professor, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC
Aline Gaub, MSc, (University of Konstanz), PhD Student, Max Planck Institute for Immunology and Epigenetics, Freiburg, Germany
Nicole Gladish, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Dr. David Rehkopf Lab, Stanford, CA, USA
Sarah Goodman, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Toronto, ON
Sumaiya Islam, PhD, Variant Scientist, Tempus, Inc., Chicago, IL, USA
Ruiwei Jiang, MSc, Research Scientist, Amazon, Vancouver, BC (First position after leaving the Kobor Lab: Data Analyst, Boeing Canada, Richmond, BC)
Grace Leung, PhD, Research Scientist, AbCellera, Vancouver, BC (First position after leaving the Kobor Lab: Postdoctoral Fellow, Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, Cambridge, MA, USA)
Nancy Lévesque, PhD, Exploration Scientist, Canadian Space Agency, Montreal, QC (First position after leaving the Kobor Lab: Postdoctoral Fellow, McGill University, Montreal, QC)
Dorothy Lin, MSc
Phoebe Lu, PhD, Research Manager, Office of Research Services, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC.
Alexandre Lussier, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA (First position after leaving the Kobor Lab: Postdoctoral Fellow, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA)
Lisa McEwen, PhD, Clinical Data Consultant, Vancouver Island Health Authority, Victoria, BC & Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC
Thorsten Schmidt, MSc, (University of Tübingen), Global Portfolio and Strategy Manager, Roche Diagnostics, Basel, Switzerland
Julia Schulze-Hentrich, PhD, Junior Group Leader, Neuroepigenomics, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany
Samantha Schaffner, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Edwin S.H. Leong Centre for Healthy Aging, UBC, Vancouver, BC
Lea Separovic, MSc
Katarzyna Stepien, MSc, MA Candidate in Counselling Psychology, Yorkville University.
Christopher Taplin, MSc, Medical Resident, University of Ottawa (First position after leaving the Kobor Lab: Medical Student, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC)
Aaron Nikita Verheyden, MSc, (Martin-Luther-Universität Halle), PhD Student, Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany
Alice Wang, PhD, Medical Student, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB (First position after leaving the Kobor Lab: Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB)
Rebecca Asiimwe, MSc, Computational Science Analyst, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Woodbury Genome Center, New York
Rachel Edgar, MSc, European Bioinformatics Institute | EMBL-EBI, Cambridge, UK
Cath Ennis, PhD, Scientific Communications Consultant
Anthony Fejes, PhD, Head of Bioinformatics, SolveBio, Oakland, CA, USA (First position after leaving the Kobor Lab: Senior Director of Bioinformatics, Omicia, Oakland, CA, USA)
Alexandra Fok, MSc, Genetic Counselor, Genome Sciences Centre, Vancouver, BC
Kiara Gibbons, Student in Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University
Sonja Horte, Product Manager, Digital Supercluster and Strategic Partnerships, LifeLabs Medical Laboratory Services, Vancouver, BC (First position after leaving the Kobor Lab: Laboratory Manager, Centre for Blood Research, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC)
Kendrix Kek, Research Assistant, Vaccine Evaluation Centre, UBC, Vancouver, BC
Lucia Lam, Bioinformatician, Rancho BioSciences, Toronto, ON (First position after leaving the Kobor Lab: Bioinformatician, GenomeDX Biosciences, Vancouver, BC)
David Lin, PhD, Research Scientist, AbCellera Laboratories, Vancouver, BC
Sarah M Mah, Graduate Student, McGill University, Montreal, QC
Alexander Morin, MSc, Graduate Student, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC
Sarah Neumann, Marketing Business Development Consultant, Contextual Genomics, Vancouver, BC (First position after leaving the Kobor Lab: Marketing Associate, GenomeDX Biosciences, Vancouver, BC)
Sharlin Patel, MSc, Research Associate 1, Baylor Scott and White Genomics Core Laboratory, Dallas Texas, USA
Katia Ramadori, Clinical Genetics Technologist, British Columbia Institute of Technology, Vancouver, BC
Gabrielle Savage, Research Coordinator, Healthy Starts, BCCHR, Vancouver, BC
Oscar Urtatiz, PhD, Research Scientist, AbCellera Laboratories, Vancouver, BC
Former Undergraduate Students