Fellowship encourages collaboration with India
Dr Vidiya Ramachandran has been selected by the Australian Academy of Science from a competitive pool to undertake an Australia-India Early Career Fellowship.
Dr Ramachandran is one of 16 young recipients of an Early Career Fellowship, which supports stays of between 3-12 months in India working on collaborative projects.
Dr Ramachandran’s research focuses on identifying the molecular link that connects streptococcal skin and throat infections to acute post streptococcal glomerulonephritis (APSGN), a common post infectious renal disease in humans.
APSGN is an inflammatory kidney disease which may follow localised skin or throat infections with the human specific pathogen Streptococcus pyogenes, also known as the ‘flesh eating bacteria’.
APSGN is of particular concern within some Indigenous communities in northern Australia and in developing countries such as India, where the disease is at endemic levels and regular outbreaks occur.
Dr Ramachandran’s research is in collaboration with Dr Jason McArthur and Dr Martina Sanderson-Smith from UOW and Professor Mohan Karamarkar at the Seth G S Medical College and KEM Hospital, Mumbai, India.
She will visit Professor Karamarkar’s laboratory in India in 2013 to screen a large collection of streptococcal strains isolated from skin infections for streptococcal proteins that could be implicated as putative nephritogenic proteins. She will also analyse kidney biopsies for the presence of such proteins using immunohistology techniques.
Dr Ramachandran said she was looking forward to working with Professor Karamarkar, who has many years of experience in the field of clinical microbiology, especially in studying streptococcal infections.
“I envisage the establishment of strong international collaboration between UOW and the Seth G S Medical College and KEM Hospital which would pave way for future collaborative projects and mutual exchange of students and researchers between the two institutions,” she said.
“I think this project will produce data which will significantly contribute towards further understanding the role of S. pyogenes strains and proteins in APSGN pathogenesis.”
When she’s not in the lab, Dr Ramachandran hopes to do some star spotting in Mumbai.
“I am a big fan of Indian movies and, Mumbai being the hub for Bollywood films, I am hoping I will get a chance to run into some Bollywood celebrities.”
The Fellowships are supported by a $1 million grant from the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education through the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund, Australia’s largest fund dedicated to bilateral research with any country. The Fund is jointly managed and funded by the governments of Australia and India.
The recipients of a reciprocal scheme funded by the Government of India to support travel by Indian researchers to Australia are expected to be announced soon.
By Jenna Bradwell.