Embracing a Passion for Glycomics: An interview with Dr. F. Ifthiha Mohideen 

GlycoNet post-doctoral fellow Dr. F. Ifthiha Mohideen shares her path to glycomics and her experience as the 2022-2023 Chair of the GlycoNet Training Association – Executive Committee.  

Posted: January 22, 2024

Originating from Sri Lanka, Dr. F. Ifthiha Mohideen started her academic journey in biotechnology during her undergraduate years. She then started a master’s degree in biology at Concordia University in Montreal and fast-tracked into PhD in biology. Her research covered biochemistry, molecular biology, and glycobiology. 

 

However, going down the path of glycobiology and glycomics wasn’t on her radar initially. “I had no idea about glycobiology,” said Dr. Mohideen. “I knew about molecular biology and chemistry but not glycobiology.”

 

A pivotal juncture in her journey was joining GlycoNet Investigator Dr. David Kwan’s lab to pursue her master’s. Her interest in glycomics was sparked during her master’s and PhD projects, which involved working with the enzymatic synthesis of a sugar precursor of a semisynthetic chemotherapeutic product. What intrigued her was the influence of this chemotherapeutic towards fewer side effects, igniting her interest to dive deeper into glycomics.   

 

In 2021, she started as a post-doctoral fellow at the lab of Dr. Lara Mahal, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Glycomics and GlycoNet Investigator at the University of Alberta. Dr. Mohideen’s research focuses on studying the glycogenes regulating lectin (carbohydrate-binding proteins) binding through CRISPR-Cas9 editing technology.

 

Beyond a passion for research, Dr. Mohideen has actively contributed to the GlycoNet Training Association – Executive Committee (GTA-EC). Beginning her term as secretary amidst the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, Dr. Mohideen’s resilience and determination shone through, steering the committee through a period of virtual meetings during the initial stages. “Because of Covid, we never met as a team and our first meeting in person was at the Banff symposium. Virtually and in person are very different.” As in-person meetings resumed, Dr. Mohideen helped the committee foster a stronger sense of community and establish a deeper understanding among members. 

 

“Working across the country with different trainees, people have different ideas and perspectives, but when you come together as a team, you process things together and it’s beneficial for team building and leadership skills,” she explained. Stepping into and navigating the role of Chair in her second year, she has left an incredible mark on the committee’s operations over the last year. Reflecting on her leadership within the GTA-EC, Dr. Mohideen cherishes the collaborative spirit that manifested through successful events, workshops, and trainee mixers. “You have to do a lot of work for it, but in the end, it’s worth it because it’s satisfying seeing everyone reap the benefits.”

 

Dr. Mohideen’s concluding piece of advice to aspiring scientists is “they should love what they are doing and have a passion for it.” Mundane activities transform into enjoyable endeavors when driven by passion.

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