Where are you from?
I obtained my doctoral degree from the Sardar Patel University in Gujarat, India. During my doctoral study, I went to the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster (University of Münster) in Germany. My doctoral work was focused on the production of biodegradable bioplastics. To this end, I worked on metabolic engineering to produce bioplastics in bacteria. I produced bioplastics in kilogram quantities using 30 L and 500 L pilot-scale fermenters. With my solid training in microbiology, I have always maintained an interest in understanding the molecular mechanisms of antimicrobial resistance. During my subsequent postdoctoral studies in the Department of Medical Microbiology at the University of Alberta, I sought to define how ribosomal protection proteins (RPPs) mediate tetracycline resistance to pathogenic bacteria. I published this work in collaboration with a Nobel Laureate Dr. Joachim Frank. My work at U of A led me to study the regulation of mRNA translation in cancer and apoptosis in the Apoptosis Research Centre (ARC) at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa. After spending six very successful years at ARC, I joined BioVectra Inc. in beautiful Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, as a senior scientist.
When did you join the U of L and what do you do here?
I was recruited to the University of Lethbridge in September 2014 as a Campus Alberta Innovates Program Research Chair. My research program is focused on studying various aspects of mRNA translation in stress and cancer. Currently, I study the role of protein factors that drive non-canonical translation in survival, proliferation, invasion and migration of central nervous system cancers. Primarily, I use pre-clinical models of pediatric and adult gliomas. As I have expertise in the metabolic engineering of bacteria, I also study the applications of RNA cis-elements in the production of biodegradable plastics.
What’s the best part of your job?
To think outside the box and be innovative in order to solve the mystery of cancers. Training students and postdocs is one of the best parts of my job. I am passionate about teaching science to undergraduate students. I feel it is important to create opportunities for undergraduate students to participate purposefully in research. As and when I get the chance, I go to my lab and work alongside my undergraduate and graduate students.
How has your job changed since the COVID-19 pandemic?
My productivity in the lab has been zero since the labs are closed at the University. However, this has provided me an opportunity to train my graduate and undergraduate students for scientific writing.