“I was born in Madras, long before the name Chennai was introduced. Being born to parents who were both forensic science researchers, I had a keen interest in the field of science. As my preferences became more nuanced, I wanted to get into the noble profession of healing people – medicine. My pediatrician became my first inspiration.
So, I completed my Bachelors in Dental Surgery (BDS) at the Tamil Nadu Government Dental College in Chennai. I lost general medicine by a few marks so I chose dentistry. But, this paved way for a new venture in my life. I joined a Japanese stem cell research organization called Nichi-In Centre for Regenerative Medicine (NCRM) whose lab was in Chennai.
Research has always been my dream because, being on the brunt of ground breaking discoveries is unparalleled to any other feeling in the world. Entering research from mainstream clinical practice was a tough decision and many including my boss at NCRM, who was a cardiothoracic surgeon himself, discouraged me saying that research may not pay well and the benefits are only met in the long term. He said, “while most of your classmates would have made great progress in their clinical research, you would still be in the early stages of your research.”
However, my eyes were fixed on the Nobel Prize right from my childhood, so no one could stop me from joining research. Now it has been 11 years since I joined NCRM and there has been no looking back. At NCRM we work on cell-based therapies. We use cells and stem cells to provide solutions to diseases and conditions which don’t have a definite cure at the moment. We have been working on finding cell therapy solutions for knee problems, urinal issues, blindness and also building immune cells for cancer. You would be surprised to know that the clinical trials are ongoing in Japan based on the technology developed by us in India.
My career and my personal life progressed and blossomed here because, it was here that I met my husband and we have been happily married for 10 years now. I am proud to have taken this field for another miracle in my life which is my daughter’s condition and the treatment she underwent for it.
We were blessed with a baby girl who we fondly named ‘Kandisa’. She came to this world in the year 2014 and she was a fairly happy baby except for a few issues like sleeplessness and temper tantrums. In the first three months she used to be awake even for 14 to 17 hours together which seemed abnormal to us. As she grew up, she started showing other abnormal signs including preferences for only limited types of food and incessant crying. In 2018, we took her to a child psychologist who diagnosed her with High functional Autism & Hyperactivity Disorder and suggested behavioral therapy.
This condition is fairly common in kids these days but a miracle awaited us. Every year the team at our research lab used to go to Japan for our institute’s annual commemorative event called NCRM NICHE. Likewise in the year 2018, a surgeon named Prof. Shimoji had come to the event to deliver a talk.
Prof. Shimoji saw Kandisa playing outside the conference room and immediately called out to her to feel her forehead. Turning to us, he asked if our daughter has ADHD which was astonishing! He advised us to take a 3D CT scan once we were back to India to find out if she might have mild trigonocephaly.
In mild trigonocephaly the suture in the forehead closes a few months earlier than usual which compresses the front part of the brain that governs social behavior and the child then becomes autistic. Prof. Shimoji is the only neurosurgeon in the world who does a special type of surgery for mild trigonocephaly.
Many kids these days are born autistic but a small number can be cured if they are given the right surgery before the age of 7. Through my profession, I was blessed enough to meet doctors who, through their research, have made it possible for finding a cure for autism. Medicine is a noble profession, one that was given to us to heal and help each other. It is disturbing to see news of front line doctors being treated with disrespect and without basic courtesy.
Doctors are human beings first who are here to bring in healing and harmony to the world. On this doctor’s day, I urge each and every human to be kind and courteous to their doctors and treat them with the respect and regard that they deserve.”
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