Name: Dr Sneha N. Anand
Age range: 26-29
Research institution: MRC Mammalian Genetics Unit, Harwell
Research career length: 5 years
Research Council: Medical Research Council (MRC)
Location: Harwell, England
Brief summary of research: Identifying new genes and pathways to understand their role in developing type 2 diabetes.
A-levels: Biology, Chemistry, Physics
BSc in Life Sciences, University of Mumbai, India
MSc in Life Sciences (specialisation: neuroscience), University of Mumbai, India
MSc in Biotechnology, Nottingham Trent University
PhD in focusing on circadian rhythms, MRC Mammalian Genetics Unit, Harwell, UK
Postdoctoral Research Assistant
Not everyone who becomes a researcher started out with an academic career as their goal. Sneha Anand overcame her disappointment of not getting into medical school, and instead developed the determination to become a biomedical researcher - a path that she is now delighted to have taken.
My research seeks to find out about genetic aspects of type 2 diabetes, an increasingly common problem amongst human population. For years it has been known that obesity is the primary cause of diabetes, but scientifically not all obese people have diabetes and vice-versa. There are many genes that interact with each other and when these interactions or the genes itself stop functioning in the right fashion, diabetes occurs. We hope that investigating the genetic factors linked to the biology of diabetes, will lead to the development of drugs that help treat these disorders.
I started out wanting to be a medical doctor, but I didn’t manage to get into medical school. Though I was sad at the time, I now have no regrets, since I have been able to do something related and just as fulfilling. In India, where I lived, I took a Life Sciences degree, giving me a broader knowledge of research options in the biological sciences. During my Undergraduate degree, I undertook voluntary training at the acclaimed Reliance Life Sciences Institute in Mumbai, which reinforced my desire to become a researcher. I continued with a Master’s in Life Sciences, specialising in neuroscience, and then came to the UK to study for a Master’s in Biotechnology at Nottingham Trent University, before choosing to study for a PhD at the Mammalian Genetics Unit.
I’d always had a real interest in biology since school, but my passion for the subject became stronger during my A-levels when studying how our kidneys work. The teacher encouraged me, and boosted my confidence by saying I could become a good doctor. Another influence was a neighbour, who would often describe exciting developments in biotechnology, such as how we could grow new skin outside the body, using our own skin cells.
My current duties include carrying out experiments over a single day and record keeping of chemicals. I mentor new students and train them in various experimental techniques, while a lot of my time is spent learning new techniques from other labs or other members of the group. I also supervise a couple of undergraduate and school work-experience students every year.
In the future I would like to divide my time between research and lecturing, since I both love the work I do, but also enjoy describing it to a wider audience.