Dr. Indulekha C. L. Pillai, Assistant Professor, Amrita School of Biotechnology, Amritapuri, has been awarded the prestigious Ramalingaswami Fellowship from the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, on 15th November 2017, for a period of 5 years.
As per DBT, “The Ramalingaswami Fellowship is conceptualized with the aim of attracting highly skilled researchers (Indian Nationals) working overseas in various cutting edge disciplines of biotechnology (agriculture, health sciences, bio-engineering, energy, environment, bioinformatics and other related areas), by providing them an attractive avenue to pursue their R&D interests in Indian institutions.” Fellowship is awarded based on the candidate’s significant research contributions, achievements, quality of the proposed research plan and its relevance to solve unmet problems in different fields of biotechnology.
Using Ramalingaswami award, Dr. Pillai aims to understand the molecular mediators of cardiac regeneration using mouse and zebrafish models of heart disease. Although few stem cells are present, the adult human heart does not have a robust ability to regenerate after injury and heals primarily through a fibrotic response (scar formation). In spite of major improvements in treating heart attack, regeneration remains a major challenge and heart injury progresses to heart failure. Heart failure is fatal and so developing ways for improved cardiac regeneration is an unmet medical need and determines the outcome of life and death. The project focusses on understanding the molecular regulators working in favour of activation of adult cardiac stem cells for regeneration, rather than scar formation. The successful completion of the project will provide novel insights into heart regeneration and could also lead to development of new strategies to enhance heart regeneration and functional repair after an injury.