UT Southwestern is recognized as producing seven different alumni or faculty members that have been awarded Nobel Prizes. Starting in 1985, Michael Stuart Brown and Joseph L. Goldstein were awarded a Nobel Prize for their discovery of cholesterol metabolism. More recently, in 2013, Thomas C. Südhof was one of three scientists to be awarded to Prize for discoveries about cellular transport systems. Developing and fostering an environment in which great innovators thrive is UT Southwestern’s specialty, and since 2018, Dr. has been a dedicated member of the institution’s community.
Dr. Suraksha Gahalawat is a medicinal and synthetic chemist who has a background in organic chemistry, medicinal chemistry, and chemical biology. In 2012, she received a Master of Science degree from Kurukshetra University in India, where she graduated among the top 10 students in her class. Later, in 2017, Suraksha received her Ph.D. working under Professor Satyendra Kumar Pandey. With an impressive breadth and depth of knowledge, Suraksha moved to the United States to begin working as a postdoctoral researcher with Professor Joseph Martin Ready at UT Southwestern Medical Center.
There, her research focuses on the design, synthesis, and characterization of biologically active small molecules to be used in the development of novel therapeutics to treat infectious diseases. She’s had extensive exposure to the idea of using synthetic methodologies to address chemical transformations that could lead to bioactive molecule development, and now, she gets to put it into practice.
Dr. Suraksha spends her days working to discover effective antiparasitic drugs to treat Leishmaniasis and Malaria. Leishmaniasis is a parasitic disease that is transmitted most commonly by small sand flies; it can cause skin sores, and more urgently, damage a person’s spleen, liver, and even bone marrow. Malaria is more commonly known, but this parasitic disease is transmitted by mosquitos. Severe Malaria infections can cause kidney failure, seizures, and even death. Developing better treatments for these diseases would save lives all around the world, and Suraksha’s research could result in a majorly positive impact on a global scale.
As a main contributor to a published piece in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, Dr. Suraksha helped identify new antimalarial treatments. Malaria is at risk of becoming resistant to many current treatments, but by advancing the science and utilizing chemical derivatization to test new treatments on the Malaria heme polymerization, new hope is found. Similarly, using the same scientific approach, Suraksha is researching how to best target the tubulin polymerization that Leishmaniasis impacts.
At this time, Suraksha’s research is performing proof-of-concept testing using a modular synthetic strategy with mice, but in advanced stages, she hopes to optimize these treatments for oral administration and test dosages. Working through the scientific process takes commitment, resilience, and adaptability, but none of those characteristics have ever been hard to come by for Suraksha. With a longtime passion for organic chemistry and a strong set of collaborative skills, Suraksha’s research has made strides.
To continue disrupting the medicinal science community, Suraksha actually filed a patent for her research findings. What she’s doing is having an impact and changing the way these parasitic infections can be addressed in the years to come. It’s no surprise that Suraksha is working at an institution that has produced a number of great contributors to the scientific community. In fact, it’s clear that Dr. Suraksha is among that very group. Her contributions to science and medicine have been remarkable in such a short time. As the years move forward, her research will advance further, and her impact will grow.
(To receive our E-paper on WhatsApp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)