Ms. Kavita S. Subramanian, a PhD student from the Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya has been selected in the 2015 Novartis Next Generation Scientist (NGS) program. The NGS program is an intensive 3 month-long internships at the research site in Basel, Switzerland. The program allows interns to spend the summer (June to September) working on a jointly-agreed upon, pre-competitive scientific or clinical research project internship. Ms Kavita is the first Malaysian to be selected in this program.
Ms Kavita and her PhD supervisor, Associate Professor Dr Ivy Chung are interested to understand how the microenvironment surrounding cancer cells can be explored in designing better therapy for cancer patients. They are particularly interested in a special type of fibroblast cells, known as cancer-associated fibroblasts. They hypothesized that molecules secreted by cancer-associated fibroblasts may be responsible for the progression of endometrial cancer. Their study showed that fibroblasts from different environments (non-cancerous versus cancerous) display characteristics that will affect tumor behaviour differently. Part of their study has been published in PLoS One (Subramaniam KS et al, (2013) 8(7):e68923).
It is hoped that the training from the NGS program will provide the opportunity to learn how to translate her laboratory’s findings to become useful treatment strategies and to gain invaluable perspective from the pharmaceutical industry about drug discovery and validations before reaching out to the market.