Interviews

‘I want to advance scientific knowledge about cancer’

Vanshika Kohli, pursuing an MSc in Clinical Research from the School of Biosciences, Apeejay Stya University (ASU), says once thought of as an old age disease, cancer is now causing a huge damage also to the youth.

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 Vanshika Kohli

Hailing from Agra, Vanshika’s father is a businessman while her mother is a homemaker. She enrolled with ASU this year and in an interview, explains what made her pick India’s first Liberal Arts University, what is the scope for Clinical Research aspirants in India, her fascination with cancer research, and more. Edited excerpts:

What made you pick ASU?

I am fascinated with the field of Clinical Research and there’s no other university apart from ASU that provides an in-depth industry exposure to students during the study period. ASU offers 2 month duration summer internships in the 1st summer break and 02 full semester (3rd & 4th) Internship in the final year of the programme. A budding researcher can’t ask for more. I believe freshers with hands-on industrial experience have a better understanding of their abilities. Importantly, the School of Biosciences has an excellent teaching faculty with highly qualified and well experienced staff. I did a thorough research on each and every parameter before picking ASU.

What excites you about Clinical Research?

Clinical Research is one of the major branches of healthcare science that includes the knowledge of the safety and effectiveness of medications, devices, diagnostic products, and treatment for human use. I am interested in Pharmacodynamics and Pharmacokinetics. The former studies the biological and physiological effects of drugs on an organism, whereas the latter studies how the organism affects the drug. These models are used extensively in preclinical trials. Clinical Research zeroes in on the best way for the prevention and treatment of various diseases. As the push for new vaccines and therapeutics climbs, this field is expected to grow by leaps and bounds. There are job opportunities in India and abroad. Also, manifold MNC’s are sponsoring the research centres in India, contributing to the growth of the clinical research industry.

You talked about the faculty of the School of Biosciences. Do you have any favourites? 

I have always had a fascination with two topics – drugs and cancer. I am on cloud nine to know that Dr. Mohammad Zeeshan Najm is a Visiting Scientist at Apeejay Stya University. He has done a lot of research on cancer and holds a PhD degree in Biochemistry from Jamia Hamdard in collaboration with the Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Centre, New Delhi. I am sure I will learn a lot from him.  Also, Dr Vyas M Shingatgeri, Dean, School of Biosciences is someone whom I look up to.

What fascinates you about cancer research?

I was in class 12 when I first studied Oncogene, a gene that is a mutated form of a gene involved in normal cell growth. Oncogenes may cause the growth of cancer cells. I was fascinated by how cancer cells manipulate the molecular mechanisms and resist all kinds of drugs. Also, once thought of as an old age disease, cancer is now causing a huge damage also to the youth. According to a report released last year by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Centre for Disease Informatics and Research, in India, the total number of cancer cases in India is estimated to rise from 13.9 lakh in 2020 to 15.7 lakh by 2025. We need to put in a lot more resources for Cancer Research. Under the guidance of my esteemed faculty, I plan to do my bit by doing research that helps advance scientific knowledge about cancer.

What are your future plans?

I would like to work in the industry for a couple of years before I pursue Ph.D. As of now, my focus is on learning as much as I can.

Dheeraj Sharma is Asst. Editor (Newsroom). He covers events, webinars, conducts interviews and brings you exciting news snippets. He has over 10 years' of experience in prominent media organizations. He takes pleasure in the small things in life and believes a healthy work-life balance is key to happiness. You can reach him at [email protected]

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