No two individuals are alike! So, how can we expect them to respond similarly to drugs or treatment? This thought is unveiling a new age in healthcare, an era of precision or personalized healthcare where treatment is tailor-made depending on the genetic composition of a patient. Prof. Vijay Tiwari, a Professor at the UK-based Queen’s University and the Southern University of Denmark, also believes that precision healthcare is a way to go. Recently appointed as an Associate researcher at RBCDSAI, he works on the development, of cancer and neurological disorders. Let’s get to know him and his research better!
Prof. Vijay was born in a small town in Uttar Pradesh close to the Nepal border. His childhood was spent in various locations while studying in different school systems as his father was in Intelligence Bureau and would get transferred to various location after every few years. After completing his schooling, he settled to do a Bachelors in Biology from a nearby college at the Kamla Nehru Institute of Technology. During this time, he realized that he should focus on getting the best education and should not hesitate to travel distances for the same. So, he went on to do his master’s degree from Banaras Hindu University (BHU) which he believed was the turning point of his life. Motivating teachers and good infrastructure at BHU nurtured his research acumen and he decided to go for a PhD. He applied for several scholarships and was lucky to get a fellowship to do PhD at Sweden-based Uppsala University. His PhD work revolved around understanding the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms involved in development. Being alone in abroad was quite a different and enlightening experience for him. He learned to be more independent and to be more serious about his profession. After his PhD, he went on to do Post Doc at the John Hopkins Postdoctoral Fellow where he learnt cancer biology and then at the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research in Switzerland where he worked on large-scale genome analysis. In the next stage of his career, he became a Group Leader at the Institute of Molecular Biology in Germany and thereafter secured the position of Associate Professor at Queen’s University.
In his laboratory at Queen’s University, he is working on various aspects of developmental biology, cancer biology and neurodevelopmental disorders. The main research theme of his laboratory is to understand how different cell types in our body are defined and how these mechanisms go wrong in cancer and neurological disorders. His laboratory has identified a new proteins involved in the movement of cells, found novel genes that are mis-regulated in autism and also identified gene signatures that relate to triple-negative breast cancer. He leads and coordinates the bilateral partnerships between Queen’s University and Indian Universities and it was during this program, he came in contact with Dr Karthik Raman at IIT Madras who has similar research interests as him. He came to know about RBCDSAI during his visit to IIT Madras and agreed to be part of the centre as an associate researcher. He believes that such interdisciplinary centres are great as they are grounds for infrastructure and knowledge sharing among researchers. He opines that the future of his field lies in the integration of the large-scale biological dataset with deep learning and feels that centres like RBCDSAI will play a key role in achieving that.
Agreeing with the fact that academia has its ups and downs, he suggests that one should only take it when one has an immense passion for their subject. He advises researchers to have a core group of people who believes in their vision and supports them which makes it easier to overcome uncertain times. Having a loving family that supports him immensely, is what he considers a major achievement of his life. This is the reason that he loves to spend time, travel and holiday with his wife and two adorable children when not working.