From the Lab: How The Canadian Lung Association helped me become the researcher and scientist I strive to be

By: Javad Alizadeh, PhD Student and Vanier Scholar

Growing up in a farming family in a small village in Northeast Iran taught me from an early age the value of hard work, problem solving from a big-picture perspective, to take initiative and leaving things better than how I found them. Developing new lung cancer therapies is my version of saving the world. Though there have been frustrations and disappointments along the way, I know the countless hours spent in the lab are making a net positive change in this world. I know my successes on this journey have been in large part earned by my diligence and my mentors’ support – in particular my primary advisor Dr. Saeid Ghavami who has always supported me unconditionally. I also thank my co-supervisors Dr. Adrian West and Dr. Thomas Klonisch, and also my Research Committee members and career development mentors, Drs. Andrew Halayko and Spencer Gibson. I also know I’ve been immensely lucky to have the support of The Canadian Lung Association (CLA).

I have been lucky to be a recipient of the prestigious CLA PhD studentship. I was also able to participate in networks and workshops that complemented my academic learning and helped me navigate through career development. I wholeheartedly believe that these have played a huge role in my success during my PhD studies thus far. Being awarded the CLA studentship has been life changing. I was very concerned about how I would finance my university education and living expenses in a foreign country, but CLA studentship has lifted that weight off my shoulders.

I remember I was coming back from our farm back to the city where my family live. I connected to the internet and saw an email from CLA. I was nervous to open the attached letter, but I had to. As soon as I saw the words “I’m pleased to…” I knew it was good news. I had been awarded the CLA studentship. With my mind at ease I flew to what would become my new home in Winnipeg. The CLA studentship has provided me with the ease of mind to focus on my doctorate studies. It has helped me to make the most out of the available resources and tools at my school and enabled me to focus on my research and academics.

Emboldened by my support from CLA, I was able to improve various aspects of my training. Thus, I aimed for bigger goals and I decided to prepare myself for the prestigious and highly competitive Vanier Canadian Graduate Scholarship (CGS). I was successful and awarded the 2019-2020 CIHR-Vanier CGS and I owe a great part of this success to the unwavering support from CLA. I know it is now my responsibility to uphold a standard of work not only as a CLA researcher, but also as a Vanier scholar.

Moving forward, I’m determined to continue my endeavours to advance Canada’s position in lung biology research. I thank CLA and its entire fabulous staff again for the continuous support in advancing my academic and scientific career and for believing in me and my research.

All these blessings, together with the knowledge that the initial CLA financial support came from the public’s donations, ignited my passion even more to strive for excellence in my academics and research training so that I could hopefully one day pay back to Canadians. I truly believe the best way for me to do so is to fulfill the CLA mission; “to promote lung health and prevent and manage lung disease in Canadians” through my research.


Page Last Updated: 06/07/2021