Bioanalysis Rising Star Award finalist: Sooraj Baijnath

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Nominated by: Sanil Singh, University of KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa)

Supporting comments:

“Since joining the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Dr Baijnath has made tremendous contribution to the processes and methods used not only in his lab but also other research units within the University and nationally. His skills have been recognized nationally and internationally by being part of the DIPLOMICS South Africa Mass Spectrometry Society and being a successful co-applicant on a Seeding Labs equipment grant and a STINT Swedish Collaborative grant. His skills are of the highest standards having received training at the Bruker Headquarters in Germany and at Uppsala University in Sweden. His leadership and research skills have now seen him being appointed as the Academic Leader for Research at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He has trained a number of MSc and PhD students who have now taken up national and international employment where they continue to disseminate the knowledge, they garnered under Dr Baijnath’s supervision. This award will not only benefit Dr Baijnath’s personal growth as a scientist but will also assist the training and development of every postgraduate student that is or that will be under his supervision in the future, where he draws the link between lab animal research and clinical studies.”

 1Describe the main highlights of your bioanalytical work.

I hold a PhD in Pharmaceutical Chemistry and an experimental pharmacologist who is a Senior Lecturer, Principal Investigator at the Catalysis and Peptide Research Unit and Academic Leader of Research in the School of Health Sciences at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. All of these achievements are thanks to my research activities, I currently have 37 publications in international peer-reviewed journals, I was awarded the 2016 National Research Foundation award for Next Generation Researcher which is awarded to the best PhD student in South Africa. This is all thanks to my work in bioanalysis involving the study of drug distribution in the brain, with the aim of effectively treating tuberculosis meningitis and HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders. My research has also contributed to the understanding of health professionals’ use of ketamine in the management of major depressive disorder. Through these studies I have graduated 4 MSc and 3 PhD students while I am currently supervising 4 MSc and 4 PhD students. I have also received research support grants to support my drug discovery research using bioanalytical methods. My work has twice been featured on Medical Briefs and the Indaba newsletter, for ushering a new age in pre-clinical drug discovery using mass spectrometry imaging.