The Centre is pleased to welcome Juzer Kakal to its team, as the first research grants facilitator! Juzer has been with UBC since 2014 and has extensive experience with research facilitation and strategy. We caught up with him to learn more about how he entered this profession and what his interests are outside of writing.

How did you get into grant writing?

It actually happened serendipitously! I was writing my Master’s thesis in Ottawa and was asked to write some standard operating protocols for a new GMP facility that was being built. I coincidentally happened to be working on the methods portion of my thesis at the time, so it worked out well because the process was similar—not unlike writing a recipe. That was the first time I’d ever been paid to write.

When I graduated with my Master’s in microbiology and immunology in 2008, we were experiencing a global economic downturn, and there weren’t many jobs at the time, so I started my own business in research consulting. I later made the decision to get back to the lab and moved to Victoria to work with the BC Cancer agency where I didn’t do much writing at all. I eventually moved over to UBC as a temporal bone lab technician and started to get back into writing and coordinating research—I was doing a lot of ethics applications, protocol write-ups and helping researchers write their manuscripts. Then, in 2015, my somewhat non-linear career trajectory path led me to the Dean’s Office at UBC’s Faculty of Medicine where I joined as their Strategic Programs Officer working on institutional grants and awards, where I caught the bug.

What do you enjoy most about grant writing?

It’s the story telling that excites me. I get to see cutting edge ideas before they come to life. It’s exciting to know that if I’m doing my job well, I’ve helped advance science by convincing decision makers that certain research projects are worth investing in.

What are you most looking forward to about working at the DMCBH?

I’ve learned throughout my work experience that Faculties tend to be siloed. What I really like about working here is that the Centre brings together people from different Faculties to work on similar problems, thereby breaking those traditional silos. I also enjoy how brain research is interdisciplinary. I’m looking forward to helping researchers see their work in a larger context, and try to position it such that reviewers can see the value of funding interdisciplinary projects that study the brain in a holistic manner—because I am a strong believer in science being a team effort.

What do you hope to bring to the DMCBH?

I think it’s an interesting time to be part of the Centre’s team—we have new Directors and a strategic plan for the first time, so there’s a lot of opportunity to grow and expand our reach. I hope to help researchers see the importance of communicating their discoveries in a way that is more accessible to the average person, thereby getting them engaged and excited about research.

What do you like to do for fun?

I like to do many different activities, including pottery classes, yoga and climbing. I also enjoy photography and I’m currently learning about the art of taking portraits.