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BioAscent welcomes back former PhD student as Senior Scientist

BioAscent welcomes back former PhD student as Senior Scientist

BioAscent has appointed former PhD placement student, George Pandarakalam, as a Senior Scientist in its Biology team.

George came to the UK from India in 2008 to complete an MSc in Biotechnology with Bio-Business at the University of Aberdeen, before completing his PhD in 2016.

Throughout 2015 and 2016, George worked on an assay development project at the European Screening Centre (now BioAscent) as part of his PhD at the University of Aberdeen, which was titled ‘Spliced Leader Trans-splicing: A Target for the Identification of Novel Anthelmintic Drugs.’

Spliced leader trans-splicing is an essential step used by nematodes for gene expression. It does not occur in the host of parasitic nematodes and is therefore a potential target for new anthelminthic drugs.

At BioAscent, George miniaturised an assay he had developed at a laboratory at University into a 384-/1536-well format, carried out automation of some of the steps, and performed the screening of the Compound Cloud. He used the free-living nematode worm, Caenorhabditis elegans, as a model organism for the study.

George was also named on a paper alongside BioAscent’s Director of Biosciences, Dr Stuart McElroy, published in the International Journal of Parasitology: Drugs and Drug Resistance, entitled: ‘A high-throughput screen for the identification of compounds that inhibit nematode gene expression by targeting spliced leader trans-splicing.’

In November 2019, George presented the poster: ‘Development of a HTS assay to identify inhibitors of SL1 trans-splicing’ at ELRIG Drug Discovery in Liverpool.

Commenting on returning to BioAscent as one of its senior scientists, George said: “I have always been particularly interested in early drug discovery and carrying out part of my PhD work at BioAscent gave me the confidence to pursue a career in this field. I thoroughly enjoyed working with the BioAscent team during my PhD, and always found everyone to be helpful and approachable, and I am thrilled to be back.

“In my new role, I am looking forward to enhancing my knowledge of different technologies and automation and applying my skills to assay development projects for the benefit of clients.”