Pete Williams, neurobiology
Pete Williams, Ph.D., joined the laboratory of Simon John, Ph.D. in 2012. In the John lab, Williams was researching how to protect the optic nerve from changes in intraocular pressure caused by glaucoma, which would offer hope to patients suffering from gradual, irreversible vision loss. He left JAX in 2018 to advance his career at Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet.
What will you be doing at Karolinska?
(PW): Assistant Professor in Medical Sciences in the Dept. of Clinical Neuroscience, Section of Eye and Vision research based at S:t Eriks Ögonsjukhus (St. Erik Eye Hospital). My work will be targeting neuronal metabolism and neuronal mitochondria for neuroprotection in neurodegenerative diseases, with an initial focus on glaucoma. The goal-term aim of my lab is to develop clinically translatable neuroprotective strategies by studying the neurobiology of complex diseases.
What will be your biggest challenge in your position at Karolinska?
Apart from the obvious running my own lab(!) — hiring, grant writing in a new system (Some of which will be in Swedish. I don't speak Swedish. Most of the grants are in English, but the lay-person descriptions are in Swedish), wrestling with Stockholm's fierce housing market, making sure I continue to deliver the high level of science that I have been working on here at JAX.
Is there one thing in particular you did while you were at JAX that helped you advance your career?
BIG publications. Although not the only thing, having a paper in Science really propelled me forward. I also started making connections 12 months before I started applying for jobs to make sure I was on peoples' radar. Practically, learning genetics and molecular mechanisms from , and self teaching (plus some help from computational sciences) of RNA-seq analysis and R really helped.
What advantages do you think researchers at JAX have over those at other institutions?
, , supplemented everything through the commercial aspect of JAX, free surplus mice, free breeding trios of mice you might need, a small, informative, and informal atmosphere that makes it easy to chat and collaborate internally, internal . If you want to learn to use mammalian genetics to think about disease mechanisms, JAX is the place to do it.
What will you miss most about JAX after you leave?
Obviously people in and my friends, certain exemplars in the scientific services (a few names spring to mind), easy access to mice and facilities, the beautiful surroundings, going to the NRB tower to look over BH and the islands. JAX is growing from strength to strength esp. with the , and hiring . It will be sad not to be here to see how it all develops over the next few years, but I'll keep an eye on it!