Zaid Taha completed his degree in Life Sciences at Queen’s University in 2015, with a specialization in drug development and human toxicology. His interest in novel and experimental cancer therapeutics led to his current candidacy as a Master’s student in the Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences as part of the Collaborative Cancer Research Program. After successfully completing his Master’s, Zaid has moved on to a PhD in cancer immunology in the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine. His passion for this field was instilled by his grandmother, a two-time survivor of breast cancer, as well as his late grandfather, who succumbed to an aggressive lung cancer.
Zaid’s MSc work revolved around Stat3, an important transcription factor involved in many cellular functions including survival and proliferation. Stat3 is over-activated in many cancers and often correlates with poor prognoses, and Zaid is interested in understanding the mechanisms behind this, and how they may therapeutically targeted. His current PhD work revolves around cancer immunology, where he studies a protein termed PD-L1 that has been shown to help cancer cells evade detection and destruction by the immune system. Zaid has presented his findings at both national and international conferences, and to support his work, he has been awarded the NSERC Canada Graduate Scholarship and the Terry Fox Institute Transdisciplinary Training Program Award.
Because of his particular fondness of teaching, Zaid first joined RIOT to support outreach and education events including Let’s Talk Cancer and Science Rendezvous. He also tutors IB biology and chemistry at local highschools, as well as TAs a number of Queen’s courses in pharmacology, immunology, physiology, and supervises undergraduate honours thesis projects. Zaid is also involved with Queen’s chapter of War Child Canada, where he has served as the 2015-16 Co-President and helped head the special focus on the Refugee Crisis. He also enjoys long walks on the beach and making omelets.