Institute in Southeast Asia Participants List and Biographies

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Narottam Acharya, Scientist, Institute of Life Sciences, Bhubaneswar, Odisa, India

Narottam Acharya completed his PhD in the Department of Microbiology and Cell Biology, Institute of Life Sciences, Bangalore. Dr. Acharya worked as a post-doctoral research associate from 2003-2011 at the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, TX where he contributed significantly to the field of eukaryotic DNA replication. Currently he is a Research Scientist at the Department of Infectious Disease Biology of the Institute of Life Sciences, Bhubaneswar, India and is actively engaged in research on genomic instability and its link to diseases. So far, Dr. Acharya has 22 peer-reviewed publications, with most publications in PNAS, MCB, JMB and NAR. His laboratory is trying to understand the fundamental aspects of DNA polymerases and how they maintain the blueprint of eukaryotic genome. In addition to his research activities, Dr. Acharya is also involved in teaching a molecular biology course to pre-doctoral graduate students who are required to undergo six months of vigorous teaching prior to their enrollment in the doctoral program.

Sanjeev Badiger, Professor, Department of Community Medicine, KS Hegde Medical Academy, Deralakatte, Mangalore, India

Sanjeev Badiger is currently Professor in the Department of Community Medicine at the constituent college of Nitte University in Mangalore, India. Dr. Badiger received his MD in Community Medicine from the Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences in Bangalore and his MBBS from Karnataka University Dharwad, India. Dr. Badiger has taught dental and medical undergraduates, postgraduates, nursing, physiotherapy and laboratory technology students. Previously, Dr. Badiger worked as a consultant for UNICEF under the “strengthening routine immunization project” in Karnataka, India. He has also worked as a consultant for the HIV/AIDS prevention program funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Dr. Badiger’s area of research includes HI/AIDS, vector-borne diseases, and immunization. He currently holds funded research projects from Wake Forest University, North Carolina. Dr. Badiger has published 10 research articles in both national and international journals.

DeekshitDoctoral Student, UNESCO-MIRCEN for Marine Biotechnology, Department of Fisheries Microbiology, Karnataka Veterinary, Animal and Fisheries Sciences University, College of Fisheries, Mangalore, India

Deekshit obtained his Master of Fisheries Science (MFSc) degree in 2009 and his Bachelor of Fisheries Science (BFSc) degree in 2007 from the College of Fisheries, Mangalore, Karnataka Veterinary Animal and Fisheries Sciences University. Since graduation, Dr. Deekshit has carried out research in “relationship of fecal contamination with prevalence of salmonella in seafood.” During the course of his PhD, Dr. Deekshit worked on the topic of “molecular characterization of non-typhoidal salmonella isolated from seafood.” His research efforts led to the detection of Class 1 integrons in salmonella weltevreden, silent antibiotic resistance genes in some seafood-associated non-typhoidal isolates of salmonella in the southwest coast of India, and the development of PCR for the simultaneous detection of salmonella pathogenicity island 2 and its antibiotic resistance genes from seafood. As a scientific research staff at the UNESCO-MIRCEN for Marine Biotechnology College of Fisheries, Dr. Deekshit is involved in both teaching and research activities of the department. He handles courses (aquatic microbiology, food microbiology, rapid diagnostic techniques, molecular biology and genetics, fish pathology and fish immunology) for bachelor and post-graduate students in the department.

Nrisingha Dey, Scientist, Institute of Life Sciences, Bhubaneswar, Odisa, India

Nrisingha Dey is currently working as a scientist and faculty at the Institute of Life Sciences in the Department of Biotechnology, Bangalore, and for the Government of India. Dr. Dey’s research is focused on plant molecular biology and his teaching courses are focused on molecular biology, genetics and biochemistry. Dr. Dey received his doctorate in Biochemistry from the University of Calcutta in 1996. He then became a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Kentucky and continued with this position until 2000. He then moved to Iowa State University as a postdoctoral scholar an stayed there until 2004. He has continued his position as a scientist at the Institute of Life Sciences and continues working as senior faculty.

S. K. Girisha, Assistant Professor, Department of Fisheries Microbiology, Karnataka Veterinary, Animal and Fisheries Sciences University, College of Fisheries, Mangalore India

S. K. Girisha is Assistant Professor in the Department of Fisheries Microbiology at the College of Fisheries in Mangalore, India. He obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Fisheries Sciences in 2002, his Master’s degree in 2004, and his PhD in 2007 in Fisheries Microbiology from the College of Fisheries, Mangalore, Karnataka Veterinary Animal and Fisheries Sciences University, India. During his Master’s education, he carried out research on the “Biofilm of shrimp pathogenic vibrio harveyi.” During his doctoral studies, he carried out research on the “Expression of White spot syndrome virus coat proteins and study of their immunogenic potential.” As a part of his Master’s and PhD programs, he was able to work as a Senior Research Fellow in several scientific projects funded by the Departments of Biotechnology and Science and Technology, as well as the Government of India, and published several scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals. His areas of interest include diseases in aquaculture, specifically viral and bacterial and their diagnosis using conventional and molecular methods, phage therapy, vaccines and immunostimulants. In addition, Dr. Girisha has experience working as Assistant Director of Fisheries in the Department of Fisheries, Karnataka and State Government of India for 5 years. As an Assistant Professor in the Department of Fisheries Microbiology, College of Fisheries, Mangalore, he is involved in both teaching and research.

Ashwin Rai, Research Associate, Department of Fisheries Microbiology, Karnataka Veterinary, Animal and Fisheries Sciences University, College of Fisheries, Mangalore, India

Ashwin Rai joined the College of Fisheries in Mangalore, which was then a part of the University of Agricultural Sciences, for the four year undergraduate program in Fisheries in 1993. During and after graduation, his interest in fisheries grew and he enrolled in a master’s program in Fisheries Resources and Management. His master’s research topic was the “dietary vitamin requirements of white shrimp, penaeus indicus H. Milne Edwards” over a period of two years. Following the completion of this degree in 1999, he enrolled in the doctoral program in the same department, undertaking research on “An appraisal of the fishery and resource characteristics of Stolephorid Anchovies along Dakshina Kannada coast.” During his postgraduate years, Dr. Rai worked as Senior Research Fellow in the projects “Diel feeding activity, pattern gastric evacuation rate and daily ration of commercially cultured finfish and shellfish” and “Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan for Karnataka” for a period of five years. For the last five years, Dr. Rai is a research associate in an internationally funded (SIDA) research project on phytoplankton dynamics and its ecological and toxicological impact in coastal waters. Dr. Rai is closely associated with numerous environmental monitoring projects and a resource person for several national organizations with numerous publications in his fields of study.

A. Veena Shetty, Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology, KS Hegde Medical Academy, Deralakatte, Mangalore, India

A. Veena Shetty completed her PhD in Molecular Science in Manipal University, India. Dr. Shetty has taught at various levels as lecturer. Currently, she is Associate Professor at K.S. Hedge Medical Academy, Mangalore, India. She has taught dental and medical undergraduate students, nursing, physiotherapy and laboratory technology students. Teaching subjects include medical, dental, and other allied health science courses adopted from teaching and learning techniques like microteaching, seminars, research article discussions and pedagogical sessions which are evaluated afterwards. Her research areas of interest include stem cell research, community-acquired infections, drug-resistant pathogens, and advising doctoral students at Nitte University. Dr. Shetty’s research is currently funded by grants from Babha Research Nuclear Sciences, Wake Forest University, Catholic Institute of Cell Therapy, Catholic Medical University, and South Korea. Dr. Shetty has published 25 research articles in national and international journals.


Lay Ching Chai, Senior Lecturer, Institute of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Lay Ching Chai completed her undergraduate studies in biotechnology, with a minor in molecular biology. In order to fulfill her interest in food safety and microbiology, she enrolled in the doctoral program of food safety and microbiology at the Universiti Putra Malaysia. During her study, Dr. Chai was trained extensively on the application of various molecular tools in bacteria detection and typing. After her studies, Dr. Chai was a part-time lecturer on molecular biotechnology in the Universiti Selangor Malaysia. She is now a Senior Lecturer at the University of Malaysia where she teaches a number of undergraduate courses, including Food Microbiology, Agricultural Microbiology, Diagnostic Microbiology and Public Health Microbiology. Dr. Chai directs training courses for the Ministry of Health on how to do research, biostatistics, and research methodology.

De-Ming Chau, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University Putra Malaysi, Serdang, Malaysia

De-Ming Chau obtained his undergraduate degree in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA in 2004 and his doctorate in Molecular Pharmacology from Cornell University in 2011. He has been Senior Lecturer at the Universiti Putra Malaysia since 2012. Dr. Chau’s research focuses on characterizing gamma-secretase and notch-signaling pathway and involves developing biochemical and cell-based assays to study the enzymatic processing of the notch receptor. He has discovered novel gamma secretase inhibitors selective for notch cleavage and has also developed unique chemical biology tools to study the specific binding of this inhibitor to gamma secretase and the accompanying active site conformation changes.

Naji Arafat Mahat, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Science, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia

Naji Arafat Mahat is currently a Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Science, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM). Dr. Mahat received his Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Sciences with honors from the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) in July 2001, followed by a PhD degree from the Universiti Sains Malaysia in Forensic Entomology in 2011. He has published a number of scientific journals such as Forensic Science International, Journal of Forensic Sciences and Tropical Biomedicine with cumulative impact factors of 5.387. In 2012, Dr. Mahat has published a book entitled “Influence of Rain and Malathion of Chrysomya megacephala: Forensic Implications in Estimating Postmortem Interval and Determining Death Due to Malathion.” He was one of the recipients of the USM Hadiah Sanjungan (Merit Award) in the Journal Publication Category in 2009 while still working on his doctoral research. Dr. Mahat has supervised and co-supervised about 10 undergraduate research projects and currently co-supervises a masters candidate in the USM.

Abhimanyu Veerakumarasivam, Associate Professor and Director, Scientific Foundations of Medicine, Perdana University Graduate School of Medicine, Serdang, Malaysia

Abhimanyu Veerakumarasivam is Associate Professor and Director of Scientific Foundations of Medicine at Perdana University School of Medicine in Malaysia. He obtained his doctorate in Oncology/Genetics from the University of Cambridge, UK in 2007. Together with his colleagues at Perdana University, he is developing a new model of graduate biomedical training that has interdisciplinary translational research as its core while bringing together clinicians, science educators and scientists. His research group is working on identifying and elucidating the components of regulatory and signaling pathways involved in tumor recurrence and invasion, as well as dissecting the Asian-Caucasian genetic variations. Together with the University of Malaya and the Malaysian Urological Association, his group is working on the establishment of a National Uro-oncological Cancer Registry and Biorepository. Dr. Verrakumarasivam volunteers as an Honorary Consultant Geneticist at Hospital Kuala Lumpur to help establish whole-genomic array-based birth defect diagnostics. Furthermore, through the Malaysian Urological Association, he is helping the establishment of a campaign to raise public awareness of urogenital cancers, focusing specifically on prostate and bladder cancers. Dr. Veerakumarasivam is a founding member of the Academy of Sciences Malaysia – Young Scientists Network that aims to identify young Malaysian scientists across disciplines who not only demonstrate academic excellence but also aim to contribute toward nation-building through the promotion of science.


Bilal Haidar Abbasi, Assistant Professor, Department of Biotechnology, Faculty of Biological Sciences, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan

Bilal Haidar Abbasi is working as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biotechnology at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan since 2008. Dr. Abbasi received his doctorate in biochemical engineering from The Chinese Academy of Sciences, Pakistan under the guidance of Professor Chunzhao Liu and Professor Praveen Saxena (University of Guelph, Canada.) He is also trained in botany, zoology and plant sciences (Bachelors and Masters degrees respectively.) His research focus is in the biotechnology of medicinal plants; submerged cultivation of plant cells for production of biologically active molecules; and strategies for production of chemically consistent plant tissues. Dr. Abbasi has supervised many research students and has over 30 scientific publications in well-known international journals. He also teaches biotechnology-related subjects to graduate and post-graduate students.

Mushtaq Ahmad, Assistant Professor, Department of Plant Sciences, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan

Mushtaq Ahmad is a plant biologist currently serving as Assistant Professor in the Department of Plant Sciences, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan. Ahmad is a pioneer of green energy (biofuel) in Pakistan due to his innovative research focused on the development and identification of non-edible oilseed plants that can be used as energy sources in rural and local farmer communities. He is the founder of the first biofuel lab and digital herbarium at Quaid-i-Azam University. Dr. Ahmad is an advocate of helping northern Pakistan achieve sustainable food and energy security and biodiversity conservation through the use of environmentally-friendly biofuel energy and wild edible plants. In 2011, the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Pakistan Academy of Sciences placed Dr. Ahmad in the list of the 10 most influential Pakistani young scientists and awarded him the gold medal and productive scientist award.

Fazal Akbar, Doctoral Student, Department of Biotechnology, Faculty of Biological Sciences, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan

Fazal Akbar is currently Lecturer in Botany at the Government Degree College Khair Abad Mardan and Doctoral Student at Quaid-i-Azam University, Pakistan. He received his BSc in Biology and Chemistry from the University of Peshawar in 2005, MSc in Plant Sciences from Quaid-i-Azam University in 2008, MPhil in Molecular Systematics and Ethnobotany from Quaid-i-Azam University in 2011 and in progress to receive his PhD in Metagenomics from Quaid-i-Azam University. He teaches different courses at the college in such subjects as Molecular Systematics, Techniques in Biotechnology, Molecular Biology, Plant Taxonomy and Medicinal Plants, as well as Bioethics.

Haidar Ali, Assistant Professor, Institute of Plant Sciences and Biodiversity, University of Swat, Odigram, Swat, Pakistan

Haidar Ali is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Plant Science and Biodiversity, University of Swat, Pakistan, where he has spent 10 years in teaching and research in the field of Botany. After receiving his MSc degree in Botany in 2003 from the University of Gomal, D.I. Khan, Dr. Ali started his career in 2004 as Research Associate in the HEC funded research project titled “Sustainable use of plant wealth of Chitral and preparation of Red Data List” in the Department of Botany at the University of Karachi, Pakistan (2004 – 2010.) This research project was led by Professor Dr. M. Qaiser, the world-renowned taxonomist and editor of Flora of Pakistan. This project gave Dr. Ali the inspiration of proceeding his PhD in Botany with a specialization in Taxonomy. He received his PhD by the University of Karachi in 2010, under the supervision of Professor Dr. M. Qaiser. He was then appointed as Lecturer and then Assistant Professor TTS in the Department of Weed Science at the Agricultural University of Peshawar. In 2011, he was appointed Assistant Professor of Botany in the Institute of Plant Sciences and Biodiversity, University of Swat, where he is still performing his duties. Dr. Ali has organized workshops and has participated and presented scientific papers in many national and international conference including Peshawar, Karachi, Islamabad, Faisalabad, Lahore, Izmir, Fethiye, and Edremit. Dr. Ali has published 27 research papers in scientific journals of repute. He has described two species of flowering plants which are new to science. His research includes his contribution to the Red List of the flowering plants of Pakistan as an author. He has been part of various expeditions in the Hindu Kush, Himalaya and Karakorum regions and has collected about 10,000 plant specimens which are present in various herbaria of the country, including Karachi University Herbarium (KUH), Agricultural University Herbarium (AUH) and Hazara University Herbarium (HUHP).

Abid Azhar, Meritorious Professor and Director General, The Karachi Institute of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering (KIBGE), University of Karachi, Karachi, Pakistan

Abid Azhar received his PhD in Molecular Medicine from John Curtin School of Medical Research (JCSMR), Australian National University (ANU) in 1994. Earlier, he received his MSc in Biochemistry from the University of Karachi in 1974. He has a long affiliation with the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Karachi since 1977. Previously, he was the Chairperson of the Department of Biotechnology, University of Karachi in 2001 as well as head of the Biochemistry Department, Liaquat College of Medicine and Dentistry, Darul Sehat Hospital, Karachi, from 2003 – 2007. He is currently Head of the Karachi Institute of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering (KIBGE), as a Meritorious Professor and Director General since 2011. Professor Azhar has over 30 years of experience in teaching, research, and educational administration in various capacities. Dr. Azhar has taught a variety of courses ranging from biochemistry for basic sciences and medical students to several courses at the postgraduate level, covering research methodology and ethics. He has produced 14 PhD, 5 MPhil, and a number of MSc research students. He has over 80 research publications in journals of high impact, as well as serving as author/editor for 7 books. Dr. Azhar has also been performing duties as Executive Editor, Editor, Editorial Board and Reviewer for several international scientific journals. In addition, he has organized and participated in more than 75 international and national conferences, workshops, training courses, symposia, etc. He is professionally associated with many research organizations, scientific academies, educational forums and social bodies at national and international levels.

Riffat N. Malik, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Biological Sciences, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan

Riffat N. Malik is Associate Professor of Environmental Biology and Toxicology in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Quaid-I-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan. She has taught several courses at the postgraduate level (MSc, MPhil and PhD) where more than 40 MPhil and 60 PhD have earned their degrees under her supervision. To date, she has published more than 60 papers in ISI-impact factor journals. Her research involves bio-monitoring and assessment of environmental pollution, specifically in fresh water resources of Pakistan. Based on her research findings, she has been providing her input to various governmental bodies. As Associate Professor, she has taught and developed a number of courses related to Environmental Sciences and has been teaching courses related to Plant Sciences and Environmental Sciences. These courses include Ecology, Spatial Analysis in Ecology, Fresh Water Ecology and Ecotoxicology, Biosafety and Biosecurity, Remote Sensing and GIS, and Environmental Pollution.

Saima Saleem, Assistant Professor, The Karachi Institute of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering (KIBGE), University of Karachi, Karachi, Pakistan

Saima Saleem received her PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Karachi, Pakistan in 2012 and completed a one-year postdoctoral fellowship at the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, Ohio University, in 2013. She received her Masters in Biochemistry from the University of Karachi in 2001. She is a graduate (with distinction) of the “Applied dual use of biosecurity education: Train the Trainers Program” from Bradford University, UK, sponsored by the US Department of State. Dr. Saleem has a strong research background in molecular biology and genetic engineering with over 12 years of research experience. She has been involved in research in biochemistry, molecular biology, genetic engineering, coagulation, hemostatis and platelet aggregation. She has taught biochemistry in the medical schools of Karachi for over six years and has a number of publications in scientific journals with a high impact factor. Dr. Saleem is professionally associated with sch international scientific organizations as the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Medical Student Association, the Pakistan Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the Pakistan Biological Safety Association and the Pakistan Proteomics Society.

Sitwat Zehra, Assistant Professor, The Karachi Institute of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering (KIBGE), University of Karachi, Karachi, Pakistan

Sitwat Zehra completed her PhD in Physiology. She is currently involved in a number of research projects, including the Genetics of Polymorphism and Susceptibility to Acute Lymphoblastic Leukeima; Cytogenetic Analysis of Spontaneous Miscarriages and Abortions; and Molecular Cytogenetics of Infertility. Dr. Zehra’s research on students’ and teachers’ preconceptions and their roles in teaching and learning science has become one of the most important domains of science education research. Recognizing the crucial role played by science and research in the process of economic growth and societal transformation, major emphasis has been laid on higher science education. Dr. Zehra teaches molecular genetics and medical bioethics, which both have profound implications for biomedical research and development for the future delivery of healthcare services.