Anujaianthi Kuzhandaivel

Postdoc at Linkoping University, Sweden

Anujaianthi Kuzhandaivel

A brilliant student in India, an outstanding researcher in Europe. Anujaianthi Kuzhandaivel arrived in Italy in 2007, after the Biotechnology degree at Madurai Kamaraj University, Tamilnadu.

She got a Neurobiology PhD position under the guide of Andrea Nistri, focusing on a challenging research topic: spinal cord injury. The whole idea was to understand the mechanisms behind the injuries, in order to have a better therapeutic effect.

By far a lot of studies on the spinal cord therapy were carried on, but only a few of them tried to really understand the causes of the injuries.

So Nistri’s lab aim was to go deeper into this matter, explaining at the same time the reason why in some cases the treatment to spinal cord injury is not very efficient. The key elements were the different neuronal pathways: in particular, Anujaianthi’s research had the objective to enlighten how neurons in the spinal cord die in different ways.

In fact after the primary phase of rapid cell death at the injury site, secondary damage occurs via auto-destruction of unscathed tissue through complex cell-death mechanisms that comprise different neuronal pathways.

Understanding the pathophysiological changes triggered by these damages is a primary goal to prevent and treat chronic spinal cord disability with a mechanism-based approach.

If the investigation field was challenging, the team was the real engine of research. During her PhD at SISSA, Anujaianthi experienced a dynamic, multicultural environment. The total group counted 17 people coming from all over the world: Italy, India, Armenia, Russia, Croatia, Argentina. There was a very collaborative atmosphere, which enhanced the group potential: in 4 years, she published 8 papers in high-level international journals.

This was one of the crucial elements to obtain a postdoc position at Linkoping University, Sweden, where Anujaianthi is currently living. Here she is learning some methods and tools to improve her research. She used to work mainly with mice models before, but they have a big limitation: once neurons die, you cannot bring them back. So she is now focusing on regeneration techniques, in order to come up with better neuronal models.

After the postdoc, Anujaianthi is planning to apply for a position in the USA. But she would not mind going back to Trieste one day.


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