About the faculty
Could you please describe yourself in a few sentences?
I was born in Delhi, India. I studied for a BSc (Hons) Chemistry degree at St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi, where I received the Gold Medal for securing the first rank in the University. I then carried on completing an MSc Biotechnology degree at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. Here too I was awarded the first rank.
I moved to the UK in 1989 when I was awarded the prestigious Inlaks scholarship in order to study for a PhD degree in Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge, where I worked under the supervision of Professor Peter Leadlay, FRS. After completion of my PhD in 1992, I carried out postdoctoral research at the Bioprocess Technology Institute, University of Minnesota, USA. I moved back to India as an Assistant Professor at the Department of Biochemical Engineering and Biotechnology in 1994.
I returned to the UK and joined the University of Westminster in 2000. I am currently a Reader in the Department of Molecular and Applied Biology and lead the Applied Biotechnology Research Cluster.
What is your area of academic interest and which courses are you involved in?
My current research interest is in biodegradable polymers of bacterial origin and their biomedical applications. This involves a range of applications including tissue engineering (bone, cardiac, nerve, cartilage), controlled drug delivery and production of medical devices and implants. I am currently the Scientific Coordinator of a large European project (total fund 4.5 million) involved in the production of biodegradable drug eluting stents. I am also the work package leader of another large EU project (total fund 4.5 million) involved in the production of biodegradable nerve conduits. In addition I am co-I in the BHF funded Regenerative Medicine Centre involved in Cardiac Tissue Engineering led by Imperial College. I have published over 100 scientific papers in this area.
I teach in a wide range of courses including BSc (Hons) Biochemistry, BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences (Biotechnology, Cancer Biology, Forensic Biology, Molecular Biology and Genetics), MSc Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, MSc Environmental Biotechnology, MSc Medical Biotechnology and MSc Biomedical Science. I am Course Leader for MSc Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology.
Could you please tell us a bit about the courses that you are involved in?
I am involved in a wide range of Courses as listed above. They include modules involving Chemistry, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Fermentation Technology, Downstream Processing, Recombinant DNA Technology, Enzyme Mechanism, Antibiotics and Biological Chemistry. I lead two modules within these courses including Current Topics in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Biological and Organic Chemistry.
What was your first job? What did you learn from it?
My first job was that of a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Minnesota, USA. The project that I was involved in was very interesting and I gained a lot of detailed scientific knowledge about antibiotics and fatty acid biosynthesis. I also learnt a lot about working effectively within a group, leadership involved in leading other scientists and supervision of students. This was my first experience in the US, so I also learnt a lot about cultural integration.
What advice would you give to the students during their studies and after graduation so that they make the right decisions for their career?
I would advise students to make the best of their time at the University, learning as much as they can through the lectures delivered and tutorials held, and in addition reading material available in text books and scientific journals. Also, they should engage in extracurricular activities such as sports, music, art, dance, which are very important for their overall development.
After graduation, it is important for them to assess what they found most interesting and exciting within the course and pursue that as their career. The secret to a successful career is to do what one finds most interesting.
If you were asked to give one piece of advice to students who are considering going into postgraduate study what would that be?
For postgraduate study, I would advise the students to pursue a course that focuses on their specific area of interest and enhances their knowledge base that they acquired during their undergraduate studies.
How do you relax out of work? What are your interests/leisure activities?
I love relaxing with my family, watching films, listening to music, going to the theatre, music concerts and dance shows. I like singing Tagore’s music and also performing Indian Classical Dance.