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Faranak Fattahi, PhD ’17

Faranak Fattahi


It was participating in her high school’s International Biology Olympiad that inspired Faranak Fattah to pursue a career in the biological sciences. Faranak, who grew up in Shiraz, Iran, was drawn to Weill Cornell Medicine for graduate training because of the “world-class education” it provided. She also welcomed the idea of being a part of the rich, comprehensive scientific environment that Weill Cornell shared with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and The Rockefeller University.

Faranak’s research at Weill Cornell focused on establishing new human cell-based models of peripheral nervous system development and function and employing these models in disease modeling, drug discovery and cell therapy. After graduating from the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences (WCGS) with a PhD from the BCMB Allied program in 2017, (Biochemistry, Structural Biology, Cell Biology, Developmental Biology and Molecular Biology graduate programs), Faranak was appointed a Faculty Fellow by the University of California, San Francisco Fellows Program. The UCSF Fellows Program selects recently graduated PhD and MD students “with exceptional potential” and guarantees research and administrative independence as the head of a laboratory.

How did you get into this type of research?

My exposure to stem cell research began during my undergraduate and master’s training at the University of Tehran while I was a part-time research assistant at Royan Institute. I became intrigued by the possibility of applying stem cells for disease modeling, drug discovery and regenerative medicine and became excited about pursing this path in my future scientific career.


What is your current position?

I am currently a Faculty Fellow at UCSF where I run my independent laboratory. As a junior principal investigator, I spend most of my time training lab members while still actively engaging in designing and conducting experiments. 


How did Weill Cornell Medicine prepare you for this position?

At Weill Cornell, I received tremendous exposure to a broad range of exciting and cutting-edge scientific expertise. I was incredibly lucky to have one of the pioneers of pluripotent stem cell research, Dr. Lorenz Studer, as my graduate mentor. My graduate experience equipped me with the skills to pursue critical scientific questions and helped prepare me to lead, train and manage my own research group. 


What is your greatest takeaway as a graduate student at WCGS?

My graduate experience taught me that success requires drive, perseverance and teamwork.


Do you have any parting words to share with today’s WCGS graduate students?

Take this time to learn and maximize your exposure to various scientific topics. I urge you to be mindful of the broader implications of your research and how it contributes to the ultimate goal of solving significant scientific problems and advancing biomedicine.