Research Scientist in BIomolecular Engineering; HHMI Senior Scientist
UC Santa Cruz, Treehouse Childhood Cancer Initiative
Sofie Salama’s work involves using pluripotent stem cells from a variety of primate species and high throughput sequencing methods to study how genome evolution affects human development and disease. Since 2004, she has collaborated closely with Professor David Haussler, Scientific Director of the UC Santa Cruz Genomics Institute, directing a Molecular Biology (Wet) Lab that works closely with the Computational Genomics (Dry) Lab. She is also a lead scientist for the UCSC Treehouse Pediatric Cancer Initiative and is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Senior Scientist. She has funding from NIH-NHGRI to explore the mechanisms by which transposable elements lead to new gene regulatory programs important for the evolution of new traits as well as funding from HHMI, NIH-NIMH, and the Simons Foundation to study the role of human-specific genomic innovations on brain development and disease. With Professor Haussler and Computer and Electrical Engineering Professor Mircea Teodorescu, Salama leads UCSC’s Braingeneers project funded by the Schmidt Futures Foundation. This interdisciplinary team aims to develop stem cell derived 3D cell culture models of the brain to study the development and behavior of human neural circuits at a scale that enables the application of modern artificial intelligence (AI) approaches to this research. Salama received her Ph.D. at UC Berkeley in Molecular, Cell and Development, did postdoctoral research in the Laboratory of Molecular Oncology at the MGH Cancer Center and Harvard Medical School and was a founding scientist and Director of Core Technologies at Microbia Inc. (now Ironwood Pharmaceuticals). Her work has been recognized by the Jane Coffin Childs Memorial Fund for Medical Research.