Master’s in Bio Pharmaceutical Technology, Batch of 2020, Alagappa College of Technology
Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow
Interviewer: Sameeha (GT)
GT: What was the reason to intern at CDRI? Walk us through the selection process.
Maithreyi: The advanced lab facilities and the infrastructure at CDRI really gave the drive to intern with them. I had applied for the Academic Summer Research Fellowship Program in December 2018. There are some screening processes you will have to go through, after applying. An important part of your application itself is a personal statement of around 250 words. Based on your ideas, the panel will assign you to a lab. It is thus essential to have a clear idea while writing this, as it is important to both you and the researchers at the lab.
GT: Walk us through the project that you worked upon.
Maithreyi: It was based upon assessing the role of bacterial metabolites in modulating angiogenesis. The gut bacteria in our body produces metabolites and it has a role in maintaining proper functioning of the intestinal epithelial barrier and immune system. Our work is to study if this has any relation with angiogenesis which has a major role to play in cancer and other vasculogenic processes.
GT: What are the different areas and skills you were exposed to during your internship?
Maithreyi: Cell culturing and r-DNA extraction with p-DNA synthesis in specific gene amplification are some basic areas. I felt that just two months wasn’t sufficient in such a versatile environment to learn in-depth. But I took advantage of the free time I had by assisting PhD students, to learn about flow cytometry and tissue culture. I even learnt how to dissect a heart out of an animal and prepare it for flow cytometry.
GT: Tell us about the working schedule at CDRI.
Maithreyi: The normal working hours are from 9.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. Since I was interested in the project, my working hours were quite flexible.
GT: Share with us your most challenging moments during the phases of your experiments.
In the laboratory, we would spend most of our time mastering a technique or an experiment. It’s true that most of them end in failure but with the support that I received, I was always motivated to try harder. The counting of cells in the hemocytometer by pipetting out an accurate amount was a bit challenging. I had to overcome the fear of touching a carrion, even though handling it was not my piece of cake. Thankfully, under the supervision of the CleanMeds lab and Dr. Jagavelu Kumaravelu sir of the Pharmacology department, I was well guided through every challenge that I faced.
GT: How were the resources and equipment facilities at CDRI?
Maithreyi: The most advanced and expensive equipment were handled by experienced lab members. I assisted in sample preparation for the other PhD students in the study of flow cytometry. The required instruments were arranged for us depending on our need. My supervisor was kind enough to help me out even with basic equipment like a timer. So, our experimentation was actually much easier owing to various instruments with proper calibration and maintenance.
GT: Did you face any challenges during the internship? How did the faculty members help you out?
Maithreyi: As I'm from South India, the language was a major barrier for me. Fortunately, I found many friends who looked after me and made sure I always had a good time. Kumaravelu sir aided me in gaining more knowledge while being very friendly. Above all, I had so much fun exploring North India. I had always wondered about the work environment of scientists and at CDRI, I had a chance to work and interact with them. Overall, the program gave me exposure in a lab and an insight into a scientist's everyday role.
GT: What’s your view on ‘Intern Diaries’?
Maithreyi: It's a great initiative as students are informed of the various opportunities available to them and can be aware of the application process. I hope my experience at CDRI helps a future intern who wants to work in a similar environment.
The Guindy Times thanks Maitreyi for spending her valuable time and wishes her good luck for all her future endeavours.