Student from India scoops international science award
By Ellie Buchdahl, 22 July 2014
Imagine if your PhD research uncovered a way to make ordinary medicines 1,000 times more effective...
‘I want to become a world-class scientist,' says Shashi Rudrangi.
And the 26-year-old from Hyderabad in India has taken a step towards his goal, by winning an international science prize for research he carried out as part of his PhD in the UK.
Shashi beat more than a hundred other students to bag the Best Poster award at the International Cyclodextrin Symposium for work he did to discover drugs that dissolve more easily in water.
‘I always used to say I wanted to do something for the world and find new devices and techniques,’ Shashi says.
‘My PhD supervisor in the UK advised me instead to go for seemingly simple problems, as they’re where the biggest difference can be made – and that was an inspiration to me.’
For science, for industry… and for patients
Shashi’s PhD at the University of Greenwich focused on the fact that many pharmaceutical drugs – up to 90 per cent of those on the market – are poorly soluble in water.
Poorly soluble drugs are harder for the body to absorb, so they are less effective.
Shashi combined Cyclodextrin molecules with existing medications to improve their efficiency – and the results have been staggering, with some of his compounds making the drugs over 1,000 times more effective.
'This is fantastic for the pharmaceutical industry and has scientific importance – but it’s also of importance to patients,’ Shashi says.
‘It means you don’t need such high doses of drugs and there are fewer side effects.’
Diversity, pride, respect
‘I’m from India and I feel proud to work on such a great project and to have received such support,’ Shashi continues.
'Great project': Shashi won the award both for his research and for his presentation skills
‘The UK is a fantastic country – all my supervisors have taken great care of me and I’m happy to have been able to use the research facilities.
‘I’ve found a vast range of diversity and a national culture of respect, and that’s something I’d like to develop for myself too.’
An audience of more than 200 leading scientists from around the world gave Shashi a standing ovation when he received his award in Saarbrücken, Germany.
It was a taster of what is to come, as Shashi has now been awarded grants to present his work at conferences in England, Scotland, Germany and Turkey in the near future.
‘I’m in my final year of my PhD and this is good for me to get proper exposure in this field of science, to speak about my work and to improve my presentation,’ he says.
‘Special thanks must go to my PhD supervisors, Professor Steve Wicks and Dr Bruce Alexander, for encouraging me to attend such an excellent conference.’
Enlightenment, experience, exposure
And there’s more to come – though Shashi isn’t giving away too much yet.
‘My professor and I have done some experiments that have been successful, and we’re going to announce the results soon,’ he promises.
‘Research is never-ending and it’s all about discussing and getting enlightened, gaining experience and exposure so you can think in new directions.
‘Those things are all around in the UK, and I’m so happy to be able to learn here.’
Shashi also received a Certificate of Merit and a multimedia tablet PC from the International Cyclodextrin Symposium for his poster (pictured right).
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