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Dr Liakath-Ali holds a PhD degree in molecular genetics from the University of Cambridge, UK. He carried out his doctoral and a brief post-doctoral research under the supervision of Professor Fiona Watt at Cambridge and King’s College London. While in Watt lab, he conducted a first, large-scale tissue-specific phenotype screen on hundreds of knockout mice and discovered many novel genes that are essential for mammalian skin function. He further elucidated the mechanistic roles of sphingolipid and a ribosome-rescue pathway in epidermal stem cell function. He has published many papers in the area of skin biology and won several awards, including, most recently a long-term fellowship from the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) and postdoctoral/principal investigator grant from the Larry L Hillblom Foundation.Dr Liakath-Ali obtained his bachelor and master degree in Zoology from Jamal Mohamed College (Bharathidasan University), Trichy, India. He further specialized in human genetics and obtained an MPhil from the University of Madras, India. He went on to work at various capacities at the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics, Hyderabad, India, Institute of Human Genetics, University of Göttingen, Germany and the Wellcome Sanger Institute, Cambridge, UK. Dr Liakath-Ali also holds a degree equivalent (Associateship of King’s College (AKC) in Philosophy, Ethics and Theology, awarded by King's College London, UK. It is perhaps these combinations of diverse backgrounds and training that led Dr Liakath-Ali to develop an interest in fundamental questions in neuroscience. He is currently an EMBO & Hillblom Fellow, working under the mentorship of Professor Thomas Südhof at Stanford on genetic mechanisms involved in synapse formation and function. He is also an avid communicator of science, eLife Community Ambassador, STEM Ambassador and open science advocate.