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‘This school helped me realise my dream’

An alumna of Apeejay School, Panchsheel Park, believes that hard work never goes in vain



The journey of this alumna from Apeejay School, Panchsheel Park, as a hardworking scientist at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi is truly remarkable. She has set an unmatched example of what dedication can make you achieve. Meet Shilpi Minocha to know about her contribution into the field of Microbiology and Molecular Biology.

Excerpts from the interview

Tell us about yourself.

I am a research scientist and a Professor at IIT-Delhi. My academic journey has been a fascinating odyssey. After school, I pursued my undergraduate degree in Microbiology at the University of Delhi followed by a master’s degree in Molecular Biology. To broaden my horizons, I flew to Switzerland for my PhD at the University of Zurich, where I conducted groundbreaking research.

I continued my academic journey in Switzerland as a post-doctoral scientist, contributing to my chosen. Today, with a wealth of knowledge and experiences acquired over these 19 years, I have achieved what I had dreamt of.

How has Apeejay shaped your career?

This school has played an indispensable role in my success, instilling the confidence I required to progress in life. Throughout my school days, I actively participated in various activities, like delivering news in assemblies and engaging in debates. It was during these experiences that I discovered my proficiency in public speaking and delivering presentations.

I credit the teachers and the entire institute for shaping me into the person I am today. This profound connection led me to enroll my firstborn in the same school. It was my dream to work in a field I am passionate about, and I’m privileged to say that I achieved that dream. When I was in class XII, I enrolled in tuition, but soon I realised that the teachers at Apeejay and the curriculum they follow are so comprehensive that there is no need for external guidance.

What was the biggest challenge you faced?

I have dedicated numerous years to my training, during which I spent nearly 15 years away from home. Balancing my family responsibilities with my aspirations has always been a significant challenge.

What is the biggest challenge that is yet to come in your industry?

In my work, I’m diving deep into the tiny world of cells to figure out how our bodies grow, fix themselves, and deal with issues like cancer. The lack of organs for transplants is an upcoming problem, and that’s where my research with zebrafish comes in. A looming challenge is the need for cutting-edge medical solutions, and my research with zebrafish is a game-changer.

These little fishes act as my investigative allies, helping me understand the essential workings of our bodies, especially in the context of regeneration. My goal is to harness this understanding to advance regenerative medicine, seeking innovative ways to enhance healing and combat life-threatening diseases. This research with zebrafish holds promise for future breakthroughs in medical treatments.

What are you researching, at present?

I am deeply immersed in unraveling the intricacies of cellular functions, particularly during embryonic development, with a focus on regeneration and combatting diseases like cancer.

My role involves being a microscopic detective, delving into the minute details of how our bodies grow, heal, and contend with challenges at the molecular and cellular levels.

It’s intriguing that humans and fish share a genetic similarity of about 70%, yet fish possess a remarkable ability to regenerate and heal themselves, whereas humans don’t.

I am closely working Zebrafish as a tool that serves as my invaluable allies in this research, offering a unique and effective model due to their striking similarities with humans. My ultimate goal is to gain novel insights into development, regeneration, and disease mechanisms.

Could you please share some cherished memories from your time in school?

I have always been a bright kid at school. I won several scholar badges. I was also the vice-captain of various clubs. I have successfully accumulated a collection of badges displayed on my school coat. Moreover, I actively participated in various events, school trips, and summer camps which helped me create long-lasting connections with many students. All these are cherished memories.

Do you think having a plan B is important in a career?

Honestly, I did not have plan B. I knew what I was capable of achieving. This does not mean that we should not keep a backup plan. However, one must understand that consistency is the key to success. If you are confident and hardworking, then plan B is not required.

What motivated your decision to return to India?

The primary reason for returning to India was family. Second, I was offered the opportunity to become a scientist and Professor at IIT-Delhi, which is highly prestigious. Herein I have been working on brain and regeneration medicines. This is my dream come true job.

Advice for current Apeejayites who wish to become research scientists.

It is very important that you study Math in classes XI and XII. Mathematics is an integral part if you want to become a scientist. If you quit studying this subject, you might be closing a lot of lucrative doors. Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Biology (PCMS) can help you achieve what you wish. Remember, hard work always pays off.

Abhilasha Munjal is a Senior Correspondent with Apeejay Newsroom. She has completed her Bachelor's degree in English from Delhi University. Abhilasha holds vivid knowledge about content and has predominantly covered local as well as trending stories in the digital media.

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