We are thrilled to profile Nuthan Vikas Bathula, Ph.D. Candidate from the Blakney Lab, Michael Smith Laboratories & School of Biomedical Engineering. Nuthan’s PhD research is focussed on self-amplifying RNA and recently received the NMIN Graduate Award.

Tell us a bit about your research.

I work with self-amplifying RNA (a type of RNA that is capable of replicating itself in a cell) and my PhD research is focused on designing and optimizing novel self-amplifying RNA constructs that encode therapeutic bispecific antibodies. The antibody encoding self-amplifying RNA, when administered to patients will facilitate in situ production of therapeutic antibodies which synergise the immune system to fight against cancer.

What inspired you to study biomedical engineering?

Medical doctors play a pivotal role in the healthcare system by delivering treatment to the diseased. However, Biomedical Engineers and Scientists are the backbone for developing any critical and cutting-edge life saving therapies, which highly inspired me to take-up the route of biomedical engineering to grow as an eminent researcher and contribute to developing safe and next generation therapeutics.  

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Do not compare your performance and progress with people around you. The path you have traveled to come here, the educational and research support and facilities you had were very different but still you have fulfilled your objectives and reached this stage and can go even further, stay strong and believe yourself  –  from my father.

Tell us about your dad’s role in mentoring you or inspiring you to study biomedical engineering?

My father is a computer science engineer by training and had nothing to do with biomedical engineering. But his own sister is handicapped (cannot hear and talk) by birth. Therefore, my dad always used to emphasize the need for and importance of medical support for people with medical disorders. This developed my passion to facilitate medical support to diseased and directed me towards biomedical research.

Why was winning the NMIN Graduate Award so meaningful?

NMIN – NanoMedicine Innovative Network is a National Centre of Excellence funded research community with pioneers of Nanomedicine, it is a convergence of academia and Industry. Receiving the NMIN award gave me the opportunity to be a part of such a vibrant scholastic community. It gave me access to the state-of-the-art nanomedicine resources and connected me with the experts who have been the foundation for and has led the development of several start-ups/nanomedicine research, which help me fine-tune my research approach/strategies to envision my career objectives. Moreover, it is highly competitive. Therefore, I consider it to be a great achievement to receive the award and be a part of NMIN.

What are some highlights from your academic journey thus far?

I consider getting into Blakney Lab in UBC for PhD is one of my great achievements and milestones, followed by receiving one of the highly competitive non-Tri-Council Canadian Awards – the NMIN Graduate Award.

What are your future goals?

I strongly believe that the research field I am working on – the Self Amplifying RNA Technology, is revolutionary. I want to further explore and broaden the applications of this technology to make it highly impactful, equitable and accessible. In the coming 10-15 years I want to see myself leading a group of eminent scientists developing the next generation Self Amplifying RNA Therapeutic pipeline for a currently undruggable medical condition.