Spotlight on Milad Riazifar

Milad RiazifarSpotlight on Milad Riazifar

PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences
Zhao Lab

Milad Riazifar graduated from the UCI Pharmacological Sciences PhD Program in 2017. He is currently a scientist at the City of Hope Department of Cellular Therapeutics and will be involved in the first US clinical trials using stem cell exosomes.

Tell us about the research you are currently working on.

In my project, we tested the hypothesis that stem cell-derived exosomes can be an alternative but effective replacement of stem cell therapy. Specifically, we demonstrated that mesenchymal stem cell exosomes exhibit robust efficacy similar to stem cells in Multiple Sclerosis animal model and exosomes can be used alone as therapeutics.

Tell us your proudest accomplishment.

During my PhD period at UCI, I was able to become an expert in a field I have never heard of before. Also, I feel good about the fact that I managed to get a summer internship at Amgen therapeutic discovery department despite all the competitions coming from students of Ivy league schools. Moreover, I feel lucky that even before I finish my PhD, I had multiple jobs offers in my hand.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I am always focused on the impact of my work on patients and society. Everyday I ask myself, ‘how am I adding value to patients and society?’ If I think I am on the track to achieve this goal I enjoy my work. If not, it will be hard for me to really enjoy it. Having this goal in mind sometimes makes it really hard for me to do very basic research which is the drawback of thinking all the time about impact!

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I am always asked ‘Milad, how did you get that internship, position, fellowship etc. What can we do to get it?’ I can tell you that for all I achieved, even small luck was an important part of it, and I don’t have any scientific justifications for it. You just have to be there in the right time and right place.

More importantly, what people don’t see is that I fail a lot. My failures are behind the scene and I don’t usually get time to talk about it. For any position I secured, I applied to tens if not hundreds and I got rejected MANY MANY times to a point that I felt I won’t get anything.

I always repeat this quotation to myself to keep me going despite all my failures: “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly” (Robert F. Kennedy).