Roorkee: Prof. Ranjana Pathania of the Department of Biological Sciences and Bioengineering at IIT Roorkee has been awarded the Senior Fellowship of the DBT-Welcome Trust India Alliance (2020-2021). DBT- Welcome Trust is backed by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India and the Welcome Trust, United Kingdom. The charitable organisation aids advance study and innovation in biomedical, clinical, and public health research to strengthen India’s health infrastructure. This prestigious fellowship will sponsor Prof. Pathania’s cutting-edge research in understanding pathogenesis of an antibiotic resistant pathogen.
The key aim of Prof. Pathania’s research is to understand molecular mechanisms through which bacterial pathogens develop antibiotic resistance. The understanding of mechanisms of resistance will help in creating powerful strategies to discover novel antibacterial compounds. The major challenge for antibiotic drug discovery for years, despite in-depth study and heavy financial investment, has been the development of resistance in bacteria. It renders the novel antibiotics ineffective. Hence, through her research, she is trying to unriddle the mechanisms of antibiotic resistance and pathogenesis in the recalcitrant bacterial pathogen- Acinetobacter baumannii. Once decoded, this information will lead to the discovery of better antibiotics in the long run.
Speaking about her research project, Prof. Pathania said, “A. baumannii is one of the leading causes of hospital-acquired infections, including pneumonia, meningitis, bacteraemia, urinary tract and wound infections across the globe. Due to its resistance level to the last-resort antibiotics, World Health Organisation (WHO) has categorised A. baumannii as a highly critical pathogen. Hence, it is imperative to develop novel antibiotics against such pathogens. To develop novel therapeutics, it is important to understand the physiological processes involved in its success as a pathogen and overcome host response. This funding will help us in understanding these pathways and targeting them for drug discovery in future.”
“I am delighted that Prof Pathania has bagged this very competitive and coveted Senior Fellowship of DBT Welcome Trust India Alliance. It is a recognition that Prof Pathania’s research goals are based on a strong scientific foundation. The generous financial support provided by the Fellowship will enable her advance our current understanding of this critical problem.” said Professor Ajit K Chaturvedi, Director IIT Roorkee.
Prof. Pathania’s research so far has elucidated ribo-regulation and other molecular mechanisms involved in the success of A. baumannii as a multi-drug resistant pathogen. This fellowship will enable her to decipher the role of small RNAs in A. baumannii physiology and pathobiology. On the whole, she will work on three such processes central to nutrient uptake and utilization in this pathogen. These may constitute the “Achilles heel” of the pathogen and help design therapeutic strategies in the near future.