‘It Keeps Me Dynamic in Exploring and Asking Questions’

Her award-winning work has advanced our molecular understanding of brain tumours. But if she wasn't doing this, where would she be?


Gelareh Zadeh is Dan Family Chair and Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Toronto. She is also a 2023 Canada Gairdner Momentum Award laureate for her pioneering work advancing the molecular and genomic understanding of brain tumours. We asked her about everything from her advice for young researchers to her love of reading in the hopes of giving you a better understanding of what goes on outside the lab for one of the best minds in research.

What do you like most about being a researcher?

It keeps me dynamic in exploring, asking questions, building on ideas and questions that we face for improving care of our patients, creating a strong sense of team with a common purpose, [and] learning new things — discoveries that are fascinating and what we can contribute to the field.

What advice would you give young researchers?

To be resilient and not to give up — to not be afraid of asking for help, for mentorship, and to collaborate.

What inspired you to become a researcher?

Wanting to find answers to questions that we face in clinical practice, wanting to learn more about how tumors grow, what they respond to as treatment, [and] to ultimately find a way to stop tumors from growing.

What do you like to do for fun?

Spend time with my two daughters — whatever it is they wish to do and be in the moment.

What’s your favourite cuisine?

I am very flexible with food I enjoy… Trying new cuisine is probably my favourite.

If you could do any profession other than your own what would it be?

I used to want to be an architect [but] I know that it’s too late now. So right now I wish I could be an author — a good author since I really like to read books.

If you could meet any historical figure, who would it be and why?

I never know the answer to this because I think if I did meet the person I’d disappoint myself and them in not being able to having an interesting conversation. Every time I read a book I like I think the author is someone who I would like to meet.

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