Promotions 2021: Q&A with Karim Mekhail

Karim Mekhail

This year, we celebrate a record 12 promotions in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology.

We speak to each of them to learn more about their role and what this promotion means to them.

Dr. Karim Mekhail has been promoted to Full Professor.

What is your role in LMP?

I am a faculty member. I lead a research group composed of talented students, postdoctoral fellows, and technicians. We use yeast, mouse, and human systems to study how the dynamic organization and movement of DNA control genome stability. We apply our knowledge to diseases, including different cancers and neurodegenerative disorders.

Beyond the lab, I teach, design courses and curricula, co-run our undergraduate Specialist Program in Pathobiology, and represent LMP on various university committees.

Why did you pursue an academic career?

Even at an early age, I wanted to figure out how nature works.

I knew that I wanted a career with the freedom to pursue intellectual curiosities that help us learn about ourselves, especially why we age, how we fall ill, and what we can do about it. Following a brief search, I discovered academic research and immediately knew that this is what I was seeking.

What does this promotion mean to you?

Being recognized by national and international peers as a leader in your field is rewarding and humbling.

The promotion also means that I am being called upon by our community to give back even more. I look forward to continuing to serve our community on the research, education, and strategic front.

If you can go back, what advice would you give your younger self?

The earlier you venture out of your comfort zone, the sooner you’ll make ground-breaking discoveries.

My current biomedical research program involves collaborations with exceptional individuals with diverse expertise. For example, we now collaborate with different clinicians, mechanical engineers, and aerospace scientists to address a broad range of health-related biological questions.

What advice would you give faculty who would like to apply for promotion?

Mentorship, mentorship, and mentorship!

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of having a trusted senior colleague genuinely mentor you through all your milestone career steps. You can even have more than one mentor if needed to get the perspective of recently promoted individuals.

Have mentors with expertise in your promotion criteria. For instance, advice will differ if you’re seeking a promotion based on a primary excellence in research, teaching, or creative professional activity.

How did you manage your time in putting your dossier together, considering your multiple priorities?

I aimed for slow and steady progress. Every week for several weeks, I spent a brief period working on one section of the promotion dossier.

It also helped that I had a folder where I had been gradually saving files relevant to the promotion.

Find out more about promotion

Promotion guidelines: to Associate Professor and Professor

Contact Patricia Cayetano at patricia.cayetano@utoronto.ca if you are a faculty member in LMP and want to learn more about the promotion process, workshops, and more.