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Exclusive Interview With Dr. Karunagaran, HOD – Dept of Biotech, IIT Madras

“Pursue Your Passion, Is My Only Advice To Students” – Dr. D.Karunagaran

With an illustrious career, Dr. Karunagaran stands as an inspiration to many young, aspiring scientists. A true scholar, Dr. Karunagaran has taught biochemistry at Coimbatore and part-time at SriKrishnadevaraya University, in a teaching career that spanned well over a decade in addition to pursuing his Ph.D. at the same time. His Alma Maters are JIPMER, Pondicherry where studied medical biochemistry, and Weizmann Institute, Israel where he received postdoctoral training. He is at present, the Head of Department for Biotechnology at the prestigious IIT Madras after working there since the year 2006.

Specialised in cancer biology, Dr. Karunagaran has aced the fields of Biomedical and Biochemistry prior to training with the MD Anderson Cancer Centre, Houston, US. Armed with an enormous amount of in-depth knowledge in cancer logistics, his transition from being an educator to a researcher with publications that are considered classical citations is both incredible and highly inspiring- about which he talks about in much detail in our interview video.

Dr. Karunagaran also provides insights into the field of signal transduction and shares his exemplary command over the subject. “What kind of MicroRNAs would work as oncogenes [interested me], and how we could use this knowledge to treat cancer,” he says as he describes his years of work at one of the country’s famed institutions with a vision to “tackle this deadly disease”.

“People correlate scope with money,” says Mr. Karunagaran “[rather than that] consider the research avenues [in biotechnology]… it is a fantastic area of research” in an argument about why biotech students shouldn’t drop out or be disheartened.

During the course of the interview, the man behind the very successful biotech department at IIT-M also divulges initiatives taken by the college to encourage young scientists & entrepreneurs, and drive enthusiasm towards the field of biotechnology. He further stresses the importance of competitive exams such as CSIR NET for any individual with a flair for research and a curious mind “making an attempt to pass these exams will definitely go a long way in achieving their goals,” he says.