Tell us about yourself…
I am an Indian Ph.D. student under the supervision of Prof. Einav Gross at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. I am working on enhancing an individual's health by improving the health of mitochondria in aging. I enjoy creative problem-solving and an intellectually stimulating environment. I’m married to another brilliant Indian Ph.D. student here at the Hebrew University and by god’s grace living a blessed life here in Jerusalem.
Why have you chosen to study for a Ph.D. at this university?
Hebrew University is an internationally accredited university that has, with time, shown great scientific achievements. I was particularly impressed with the scientific culture of this university and have been enjoying being surrounded by extraordinary minds.
Tell us about your lab and research project...
A young and healthy cell maintains a healthy population of mitochondria by generating new mitochondria and removing damaged mitochondria by a programmed series of events called mitophagy. As organism ages, this process of mitophagy declines, and damaged mitochondria accumulate in cells. This loss of mitophagy and accumulation of damaged mitochondria is also observed in many late-onset disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. We aim to reactivate mitophagy as a therapeutic target. This has been previously explored by a polyamine Spermidine which increases health span and lifespan. However, its drug potential is limited due to toxic metabolite production after ingestion. A Spermidine-like, non-toxic compound VL-004 that activates mitophagy and protects nematodes and human cells was examined which increases both health and lifespan. We explore how VL-004 and other such advanced mitophagy-activating compounds work in worms and cells to enhance health and if it could be used as a new strategy to prevent or delay age-related disorders.
What are your career goals? How studying here help you achieve those goals?
My career goal is to be a Scientist and have a team of my own in India where I can truly have fun exploring aging biology and hopefully contribute significantly to this field. Here, I am getting my doctoral degree and understanding how to think in scientific terms. Right now, I aspire to develop the skill of critical thinking and understanding how to ask questions and finally learn the techniques to battle those questions.
Best dish in Jerusalem?
Knafeh in Mahane Yehuda Market. It’s very different from Knafeh at the rest of the places that I’ve had and it’s simply one of the best. I also took my in-laws to have that and they absolutely fell in love with it.
Best place at the faculty to chill down?
The balcony on -1 floor in the Botnar Building!
Mahane Yehuda Market or the beach of Tel Aviv?
Definitely the beach in Tel Aviv. I seek calm so I love Jerusalem for its beautiful and quaint landscape but between the two options, I would choose a relaxing day at a quiet beach in Tel Aviv.