Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad
University of Michigan, USA
Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Mohali
I started my earlier education like any other normal school going kid, where one has to learn on a whole lot of subjects. But as I moved up to high school, I slowly started developing some strong interest in science, though the exact trigger is not clear. May be I felt science has more mechanistic connection to the survival of whole biosphere on earth and the whole universe itself. This made me to take up science as main topic in my undergraduate and Master's training. It was a time when the Genetic engineering and Biotechnology boom was making impact both in news columns and also in hospital beds. To add more to it, the column of "Speaking of Science" in the popular news paper The Hindu, as well as articles in Scientific American, exposed me to a whole new world of science that made me to think and observe research in science in a different angle than usually one would do. This gave rise to too many questions and the answers for which I found some from books and some from my Professors. But there were more questions than answers in my mind always.
At later stage of my career, I developed strong interest to contribute some thing to science, but one need to identify the right problem and field. This took me to the awareness about junior research fellowship (JRF) examination, which is conducted by UGC-CSIR, which supported young researchers. I was successful in getting the JRF and luckily got a chance to work at the prestigious Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad, in my favorite topic Genetic engineering and Biotechnology. During this period I started to develop passion on regeneration, tissue engineering and stem cells. This made me to focus my postdoctoral lab hunting in that field. Though it took me almost two years post Ph.D. career to find a suitable lab in the field of my interest, I never repented with my decision. The postdoctoral research was on retina regeneration.
Mankind has faced challenges throughout their lifetime. We have successfully faced many of them with our knowledge and wisdom. There are many genetic and physiological conditions that are unanswered even now. One such example is blindness. One of the major causes of blindness is retinal damage. More than 5% of the human population at some time point in their lifetime face retinal damage and associated vision problems. This is further enhanced by various physiological conditions like, hypertension, glaucoma, diabetes etc. Unfortunately we haven't found successful solution to this nagging problem. Interestingly lower vertebrates like fishes and frogs have remarkable ability to repair the damaged retina and restore vision. This made the whole scientific community including myself to look into various aspects of regeneration in damaged fish retina. After successful postdoctoral career, I decided to have my own research group.
In India, research means big Institutes like CCMB, NCBS, IISc, TIFR etc. and education holds to big universities under University Grants Commission (UGC) and IITs. India is still wanting of good educational institutes with equal merit on both research and education as in case of many famous western universities. On par with these thoughts, various Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISERs) were set up and I tried my options at IISERs first. This is solely because of my innate interest in both research and teaching. Teaching and research hand in had is a great bliss one scientist can have. I was lucky to have the opportunity to start by research/teaching career at IISER, Mohali. IISER-M is generously supporting my research and it reached near perfection with my success in obtaining prestigious Wellcome trust-DBT India alliance grant that is my first external funding after becoming an independent researcher and teacher.