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2015 Predoctoral Researchers


Jelly Soffers

Maastricht University
Workman Lab
The sum of its parts is greater than the whole: distinct roles for enzymatic submodules of SAGA chromatin-modifying complex in Drosophila tRNA gene expression

A native of the Netherlands, Jelly Soffers felt a special connection to the Stowers Institute during her interview visit, when she read the Institute’s motto “Hope for Life” inscribed in Dutch (“Hoop Doet Leven”) on the soaring glass panels above the library’s fireplace.

The words echoed Soffers’ desire to intimately understand the fundamentals of human health and disease, and the philosophy driving her scientific career. Soffers earned her BS in molecular life sciences at Maastricht University in 2009. While there, she became intrigued by the pathways that regulate growth and development, and how mechanisms that regulate embryonic growth become dysregulated during cancer development.

Soffers explored that relationship further while working toward her master’s in oncology and developmental biology at Maastricht. She learned to craft 3D models of human embryos, a skill she used to vividly illustrate her master’s thesis project on human gut development, recognized as best master’s thesis of the year for health, medicine, and life sciences. Through her part-time work as an instructor of developmental sciences, Soffers also discovered a knack for teaching, and was nominated for a top teaching award.

Soffers’ first encounter with the Institute occurred during an international course on developmental biology at the University Pierre et Marie Curie, where she met Stowers Investigators Paul Trainor, PhD, and Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado, PhD. Impressed by their fresh and visionary outlooks on developmental biology, she applied to the graduate program and was excited to be accepted. She intends to maximize her time at the Institute, filling her “backpack” with the skills and experiences necessary to prepare herself for a challenging postdoc position, with the hopes of one day starting her own research group.