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Name: Sanjay Sarkar
From: Kolkata, India
Degrees: PhD candidate at University of Kentucky (UK) Gluck Equine Research Center,
Bachelor of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry (equivalent to DVM) or BVSc&AH from West Bengal Animal and Fishery Sciences (WBUAFS), Kolkata, India
Masters in Veterinary Pathology from WBUAFS, Kolkata, India
Tell us how did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and uncommon career?
One of the reasons Sanjay Sarkar chose to continue his education at the University of Kentucky’s Gluck Equine Research Center was the opportunity to pursue higher studies in virology.
“I became interested in Dr. Chambers’ (PhD, professor of veterinary virology at the Gluck Center) research work at Gluck,” he said.
What do you do?
Sarkar is conducting a research project on equine herpesvirus (EHV-1). EHV-1 infection has two forms: One causes abortion in mares, and the other causes respiratory infection and occasionally neurologic signs. The initial clinical signs of infection might be nonspecific and include fever. Other presenting signs might include combinations of fever, nasal discharge, cough, and respiratory signs. The virus can be highly contagious, endemic, and spreads primarily through direct horse-to-horse contact.
“I am trying to characterize the type-I interferon (IFN) response against equine herpesvirus-1 infection in the cell culture model,” Sarkar said.
Horses pick up the virus through their respiratory system. The virus first replicates in the respiratory epithelium and then spreads through the circulatory system. Sarkar said the cell culture model can be used as a model for the horse.
In his research, Sarkar grows the virus in different cell lines, such as vero cells, MDBK (Madin-Darby bovine kidney) cells, equine endothelial cell (EEC), and equine dermal cells.
What is the benefit of this research?
“To grow equine herpesvirus, I use equine endothelial cell in DMEM (Dulbecco’s Modified Eagle Medium) cell culture media with 10% fetal bovine serum,” he said. “My study will reveal how EHV-1 evades the type-I IFN mediated host innate immune response and also identify the viral genes that are responsible for the immune evasion.”
Sarkar hopes his research will shed light on how EHV-1 causes disease in horses.
“The information may eventually be helpful in targeting new therapeutics,” he said. Sarkar hopes to continue his research through postdoctoral training in the field of virology.
Shaila Sigsgaard is a contributing writer for the Bluegrass Equine Digest.