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Meet Christopher Fell

1. Tell me in five words who is Christopher Fell?
Motivated, curious, chilled, unshelled, British.

2. What made you join CeMM?

When I was looking for PhD positions, to be honest I did not have Vienna or CeMM on my radar. In the UK we  often use, on which I stumbled across an advertisement from CeMM. I decided to apply and, after coming out to Vienna for the interview, I was blown away by the institute, by the amazing science being done, by the CeMM PIs themselves, and I immediately fell in love with the city. I loved the size of CeMM: not too big and not too small.  

3. What is it about science that interests you the most?

It’s the thinking part. Think of a need or problem, brainstorm projects, plan and execute. Also, the moment of clarity when you realize how a puzzling bit of data fits into the wider picture, or finally cracking a frustrating experiment. It’s addictive!

4. What is the best career advice you ever received, or you can give to the CeMM community?
Surround yourself with people who you like and respect. Take on as much advice as possible, however, remember that everyone’s experience is an n=1, and thus should be taken with a grain of salt. 

5. Tell us what happened to you after you left CeMM?

I moved to Boston and took a position as a postdoc in the joint lab of Omar Abudayyeh and Jonathan Gootenberg at MIT. Here, I’m working on early tech dev, focusing on genome engineering technologies that can insert very large sequences into the genome. We apply these to genetic diseases in a way that’s agnostic of a patient’s genotype, by replacing or supplementing a mutated gene with the wild type cDNA.

6. What book do you have on your night table at the moment

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (it’s been there for like 2 years now, but I’m close to the finish).

7. What is the last song you heard?

Perhaps related to the previous answer: The Riders of Rohan by Howard Shore. 

8. Any message you would like to give to CeMMies or a former colleague?

Savor your time at CeMM, it goes so fast. And don’t be too stressed out about your first Friday seminar.

Christopher Fell obtained his BSc and MSc in Molecular Genetics from the University of Leicester, UK. For his PhD, Chris joined the lab of Vanja Nagy at the Research Center for Molecular Medicine (CeMM) and the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Rare and Undiagnosed Diseases (LBI-RUD). As a DOC fellow of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Chris studied rare neurodevelopmental disorders and, through patient-led approaches, identified genes involved in healthy neurodevelopment. Chris’ thesis centred on the gene FIBCD1 and how it interacts with the brain extracellular matrix. Since 2022, Chris is a postdoc in the AbuGoot lab at MIT, where he is a fellow of the Simons Center for the Social Brain.