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Nika Shakiba, Ph.D.

University of British Columbia


Nika Shakiba is an Assistant Professor in the School of Biomedical Engineering (SBME) at the University of British Columbia. Her lab is interested in the “social lives” of stem cells: how these cells interact to influence one another’s survival and cell fate decisions, both in culture and embryonic development. Dr. Shakiba’s team uses systems and synthetic biology to understand the genetic rules that encode cooperative and competitive interactions between stem cells. Leveraging genetic engineering, her lab seeks to program these interactions to drive predictable growth and differentiation outcomes and enable robust bioprocesses for manufacturing stem cell-derived cell therapies.

Dr. Shakiba completed her Ph.D. under the supervision of Dr. Peter Zandstra at the University of Toronto. She then conducted her postdoctoral training under the co-supervision of Dr. Ron Weiss and Dr. Domitilla Del Vecchio in the Synthetic Biology Center at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, supported by a Postdoctoral Fellowship from NSERC. Through these experiences, she has bridged experiment-to-theory by using genetic technologies to track single cell behaviors, using mathematical models to deconvolve complex datasets, and generating novel predictions. Dr. Shakiba is also passionate about providing equity in mentorship and multi-directional advice-sharing through her latest project, Advice to a Scientist.

Science Programs at Allen Institute