Meet the young scientist from Pune whose research could lead to cure for Zika virus

Pune's Thomas Pucadyil is one of these 41 scholars who have beaten 1,400 applicants from around the world

Scientists are still trying to find how does the immune system respond to dengue and zika viruses. How could the malignant stem cells could be removed without harming the healthier ones. They are also exploring new molecular strategies that can fight obesity to explaining why cholera outbreaks occur in endemic regions.

While it may be an uphill task to make these discoveries but Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have selected 41 young scientists from 16 countries as international research scholars who will carry out extensive research in this field. Pune’s Thomas Pucadyil is one of these 41 scholars who have beaten 1,400 applicants from around the world. Thomas’ distinguished profile speaks for itself. He is a senior fellow in the Wellcome Trust- Department of Biotechnology and an associate professor in biology at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER)

Currently, he is studying how biological membranes – protective barriers that are highly resilient to rupture – split to allow the packaging and transport of cellular materials.

“Basically, we are searching for membrane fission catalysts that cells use to manage this energetically demanding process,” he told Pune Newsline. The 41 scientists will receive a total of nearly $26.7 million. Each researcher will receive a grant of $6,50,000 over a period of five years.

HHMI, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wellcome Trust and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation together fund ‘exceptional early-career’ scientists from across the world, enabling discoveries that advance human health and the fundamental understanding of biology, reports Indian Express.

The International research scholars competition for 2017 was held in March last year and was open to all early-career scientists who held a full-time position at a research institute and who were in charge of their own laboratories for a period of less than seven years.

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