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RGCB scientist Karthika Rajeeve wins Ben Barres Spotlight Award

The Ben Barres Spotlight Awards, given by scientific journal for the biomedical and life sciences eLife, have been given each year since 2019 in memory of the American neurobiologist Dr. Ben Barres, a transgender researcher who advocated for equality in science.

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Thiruvananthapuram: Dr. Karthika Rajeeve, a staff scientist at the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB), has been selected for 2022 Ben Barres Spotlight Award.

The Ben Barres Spotlight Awards, given by scientific journal for the biomedical and life sciences eLife, have been given each year since 2019 in memory of the American neurobiologist Dr. Ben Barres, a transgender researcher who advocated for equality in science.

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Karthika is one of the12 scientists from around the world chosen for the prestigious award this year. She has been working on the human pathogens Chlamydia trachomatis. Her research focuses on how these pathogens evade the host immune system.

“The scientific community at RGCB is elated at the international recognition received by Karthika Rajeeve,” said Prof .Chandrabhas Narayana, Director RGCB.

Expressing happiness on being selected for the honour, Karthika said she will use her award to buy much-needed equipment to take forward her research besides attending an international conference on Chlamydia biologists to increase the visibility of her work.

The 12 awardees were selected from 123 applicants that met the qualifying criteria. Each qualifying application was independently assessed by at least two reviewers drawn from representatives of eLife’s editorial board, Early -Career Advisory Group and staff.

Chlamydia trachomatis (Ctr) is a neglected tropical disease and this infection remains asymptomatic as a silent epidemic. The bacteria persist over extended times within their host cell and thereby establish chronic infections.

Persistent and chronic infection can cause potentially fatal ectopic pregnancy, pelvic inflammatory disease and sterility. Interferon gamma is known to induce persistence in Chlamydia through depletion of the amino acid tryptophan. Her study challenges this long-standing hypothesis and shows that interferon gamma can down regulate c-Myc, the key regulator of metabolism leading to chlamydial persistence. This broadens the understanding of the key role of IFN-γ as a modulator of host cell metabolism.

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