Grad Student Spotlight: Mahboubeh Varmazyad

Mahboubeh 2

Mahboubeh’s father, a physicist, nurtured her interest in science from a young age. As she grew up, he encouraged her to read many books about physics, and the information revealed in these texts sparked Mahboubeh’s interest in chemistry. She continued her self-guided study of chemistry literature throughout high school and went on to the Sharif University of Technology in Iran to attain her bachelor’s degree and master degree in chemistry.

Mahboubeh came to the University of Iowa with her husband, who recently graduated with a doctorate degree through the College of Engineering. She joined the Pigge group, and her work focuses on synthesizing derivatives of an FDA-approved anti-malaria drug to be repurposed as cancer therapeutics. Biological tests of the activity of these new derivatives have shown them to have high cytotoxicity towards melanoma A375 and pancreatic [MIA PaCa-2] cancer cell lines.

After achieving her PhD, Mahboubeh hopes to find a postdoctorate or a medicinal chemist position that will allow her to pursue her endeavors as an organic chemist focusing on drug development, while also developing her biological skills as a chemist.

She offers the following advice to students who are considering a graduate degree in chemistry: graduate school is an opportunity to grow not just as a researcher, but as an independent individual. It forces you to balance priorities, manage your time, and make wise choices. These are invaluable life skills, not only for professionals, but for individuals with personal relationships and goals outside of the professional realm.

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