How are you taking your research work forward under the lockdown?
Being confined at home it has been extremely difficult to make any progress with research that was dependent on laboratory experiments. However, luckily my group had some results that were due for publication, and we have used the time effectively to prepare papers and reports. We have also studied the literature extensively and generated some useful and important new data through in silico molecular modelling, which does not require us to be physically present in the lab.
How do you think the current pandemic might influence your research field in the short and long term?
It is too early to comment on the overall influences of the current pandemic. The shutdown has already had negative impacts with research facilities shut down, and uncertainties over = projects that might be postponed or cancelled as government priorities change. However, there are also opportunities, particularly in our field [medicinal chemistry]. The whole world is desperately looking for a cure for COVID-19 and we have already initiated some Med Chem projects, aiming to develop expertise and knowledge in this area, and to adopt this in our research towards the long-term goal of such a cure.
What is your research focus?
My current research focuses on the design, synthesis and identification of small organic molecules as potential drugs for tuberculosis, obesity, psoriasis, inflammation and other conditions.
What aspect of your work are you most excited about at the moment?
We have discovered a small organic molecule that may kill the bacteria responsible for causing tuberculosis (TB). Its unique mechanism of action involves blocking a key enzyme not found in humans that is responsible for supplying nutrients to the bacteria that causes TB. It has shown encouraging results in an animal model of TB.
We're also excited about our discovery of a small organic molecule that is a potential drug for the skin disease psoriasis.
What do you find most challenging about your research?
I think the biggest challenge, not only for me but for all researchers engaged in drug discovery, is the difficulty of finding an ideal molecule that could become a drug. It takes a huge amount of time, effort and funding to discover a molecule with potential as a drug, and after that it may fail at any time during development.
Why did you decide to become an Associate Editor for RSC Advances?
Long before I became an Associate Editor of RSC Advances it was one of the journals I preferred to publish in, so I was keen to take on the role when a friend nominated me in 2015.
How does your role as an Associate Editor contribute to the journal and to the scientific community?
In the last 4–5 years I have handled a diverse range of manuscripts, and I always try my best to maintain a high standard and communicate appropriate decisions to authors within a reasonable time frame. I am grateful to all the reviewers who have helped me do this.
If you had one piece of advice for authors submitting to RSC Advances, what would it be?
This journal publishes work quickly and has a global readership and high impact, so submit!
What is your favourite thing about the Associate Editor role?
I find reading and analysing the comments and suggestions put forward by the reviewers of my manuscripts very rewarding.
How do you spend your spare time?
I listen to Indian classical music, I follow cricket and I enjoy watching TV with my family.
Who were your role models as a child, and did you always want to be a scientist?
I didn’t have any specific role models as a child. However, I was very fond of painting and won several prizes for it even though I was untrained. I used to think about the painters of pictures I particularly liked and wonder how I could paint like they did.
Which profession would you choose if you weren’t a researcher?
I think I would have liked to be a painter!