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From India to Germany to the US: An internationalist pursuing science, and working for human well-being.

Can you tell us about your background?

Vijay, as he prefers to be called, grew up in the delightfully named town of Ooty, a tourist venue in the South India region of Tamil Nadu. He went on to acquire a bachelor’s degree in biotechnology and a Masters in bio informatics from Bharathiar University, named for Subramania Bharathiar, one of Vijay’s favorite poets.

From there, it was off to Germany to do his PhD studies at the University of Bielefeld, which he chose because of its eclectic mix of students from Brazil, Japan, Australia, and the UK before crossing the Atlantic to join UCLA’s Department of neurology where he is at present a project scientist in neurogenetics.

What is your research focused on?

His research interests are in peripheral and central nervous system regeneration, which he pursued in collaboration with scientists from UCLA and Harvard, including his postdoctoral advisor, Prof. Daniel H. Geshwind; and understanding FA (Friedreich’s Ataxia) by generating an appropriate mouse model with temporal knockdown of frataxin to control and reverse the onset and progression of the disease.

Also in conjunction with Dr. Geschwind, Vijay has made the FA mouse model available for other academic labs and pharma companies to accelerate FA research and treatment options. He has also patented the genes, proteins and small molecule networks that lead to nerve regeneration. In addition, the 34-year-old scientist has taken part in a course on entrepreneurship for science, medicine and technology, given several talks on neural repair, and served as a reviewer for several international journal articles, and also for grant proposals for the UK’s Medical Research Council.