Kanchana Ayyar is a molecular biologist working to transform the diagnostic approach to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). She explains how guidance from mentors is the key to finding success.
Our research group is working to identify novel diagnostic biomarkers for IBD. Exosomes are tiny packets of proteins and genetic material which can be isolated from patients’ intestinal fluid. In the lab, my work is to screen exosomes from patients with IBD and compare them with samples from healthy people. This will allow us to identify any unique exosomal markers to distinguish IBD patients. These biomarkers would allow us to diagnose IBD patients, identify disease severity and determine the most effective treatments for each type of patient.
Although millions of people suffer from IBD, there is still no single diagnostic test available. There is a considerable need for a novel tool that can assess disease severity with minimal risk, expense, and inconvenience to patients. If these diagnostics could also help personalized treatment selection for IBD, they would add immense value to physicians and patients. My post-doc mentor is a gastroenterologist who helps patients suffering from IBD get the treatment they need. He helps me appreciate the impact my research may have on patients’ lives and gives me the determination to bring my project to fruition.
Scientific research is an extensive field, and it is easy to become captivated by the magic of research. A mentor is someone who encourages your enthusiasm while setting you on the path for success. I have been fortunate to have had brilliant mentors who helped me realize my goals. Now, I hope to share my experiences with the next generation of researchers who are looking for similar guidance.
Q: What kind of mindset do you need to achieve the Next Great Impossible?
A: A passion for science is essential and my success is a testament to those who continue to support and inspire my work.