January 23, 2011
Center for Nanosciences, Kochi
Since the start of the new year, the Amrita Center for Nanosciences and Molecular Medicine (ACNSMM) at Kochi has been busy, welcoming eminent scientists and scholars from India and abroad, exposing graduate students to diverse perspectives of the scientific world.
Besides hosting Noble Laureate Dr. Martin Chalfie, the Center also recently welcomed Dr. Sarah Heilshorn of Stanford University.
At Stanford, Dr. Sarah is part of the Joint Centre on Cell Targeted Diagnostics and Therapeutics, a multi-university consortium in which Amrita is the only Indian partner.
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A winner of the NIH New Innovator Award, National Science Foundation Career Award and PRF New Investigator Award, Dr. Sarah researches biomaterials in regenerative medicine, engineered proteins with novel assembly properties, micro-fluidics and photolithography of proteins and synthesis of materials to influence stem cell differentiation.
Last year, she received a major grant of $500,000 from the National Science Foundation to develop new biomaterials using recombinant protein engineering technology for treating people with spinal cord injuries.
For this project, her team at Stanford will design a biomaterial with an active release mechanism to deliver medication in response to signals from the patient’s own body, providing the right dose at the right time.
That a person with her credentials should choose to spend five full days interacting with faculty and students at the Amrita Center, is testimony enough to the high quality of research undertaken here.
During her visit, Dr. Sarah encouraged research synergy between India and the U.S. Interacting with the Amrita faculty, she laid the groundwork for development of joint research programs.
The three seminars she delivered to graduate research students served to introduce them to the advanced scientific research culture of another country.
“Students benefitted greatly not only from the specific information shared in the seminars, but also from their insightful interaction with the distinguished scientist,” stated Dr. Shantikumar Nair, Director, ACNSMM.
To reciprocate Dr. Sarah’s visit, the Center will send a faculty, Dr. Krishna Prasad, and a PhD student, Praveen G., to Stanford this spring.
“Their experience will be of great benefit to Amrita. Our faculty and students will gain experience with research techniques that we don’t currently have here,” said Dr. Shantikumar.
Dr. Hari Gopal, Director of the Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC) in New Delhi, also recently visited the Center. His visit on January 10 was inspired by a desire to see the Center’s setup, meet its faculty, and see what is happening in terms of research.
The Center receives SERC funding.
“He was very pleased to have come here and was particularly impressed with our faculty,” shared Dr. Shantikumar.