The Neuro’s newest faculty member, Sali Farhan, is an accomplished human genomicist who bridges the gap between the clinic and the lab to understand the role genes play in neurological disorders.
Farhan comes to Montreal from Boston where she completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Before that she earned a PhD in biochemistry and genetics from Western University. She also completed the Canadian College of Medical Geneticists (CCMG) fellowship at CHEO, University of Ottawa.
As a genomicist, Farhan studies the human genome — all the genes that make us who we are. She will focus on finding variants or mutations in the genomes of patients that contribute to neurodegenerative diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
At the clinic level, Farhan will develop genetic tests for patients who are referred to her by neurologists. These tests check to see if the patient has known genetic variants that might explain their symptoms. On the research side, she hopes to discover new disease-causing genes that will be used to develop better tests in the future.
Her goal is to help neurology catch up with other fields like cancer or cardiology where genetic testing is used to select patients for potentially life-saving clinical trials. These therapies, tailored to a patient’s unique genetic profile, have more potential for positive impact than conventional approaches.
Farhan says she looks forward to using her expertise in collaboration with the research and clinical teams at The Neuro.
“I’m really honoured to be joining an academically competitive yet collaborative environment,” she says. “It’s such a privilege be working alongside the scientists that have discovered these genes I’ve read about in graduate school, as well as the methodologies I’ve used again and again.”