Dr Vanitha Mariappan

This research project aims to determine the environmental point sources of melioidosis outbreaks in Northern Australia and develop a rapid detection method to identify Burkholderia pseudomallei, the agent responsible for the outbreak.

Economy: Malaysia

Partnering Australian Institution: Menzies School of Health Research

Project Title: Identification, Molecular Typing and Rapid Detection of Burkholderia Pseudomallei from Environmental Samples Collected in Northern Australia

Project Outline:

This research project aims to determine the environmental point sources of melioidosis outbreaks in Northern Australia and develop a rapid detection method to identify Burkholderia pseudomallei, the agent responsible for the outbreak.

Reasons for applying for fellowship:

Dr Vanitha Mariappan believes that this fellowship will lead to eye-opening research opportunities and be a life changing experience. The fellowship will provide her with an opportunity to undertake further research and serve as a platform for professional development that will work to enhance and strengthen her international networks for future collaboration.

Past Achievements:

Vanitha has a history of being recognised for her achievements. She completed her Bachelor of Science (Honors) and Master of Science at Universiti Putra Malaysia and was awarded a distinction for her Doctoral Thesis that she completed during a National Science Fellowship awarded by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI}, Malaysia. Her PhD research was focused on pathogenesis of Burkholderia cepacia, with a focus on the secretory proteins which are known to be key virulence factors that are required for pathogenesis of infection.

Vanitha has actively participated in local and international conferences and was awarded the Young Investigators Presentation (Cambridge, United Kingdom), the Honorary Mention Award (Chulalangkorn University, Thailand} and Best Poster Award (National University of Singapore}. Vanitha has also received several travel grants including the Welcome Trust Travel Grant for Young Investigator and she was also awarded the prestigious Merck Young Scientist Award (Winner of the Bioscience Category).

During her postdoctoral research, Vanitha received the Bright Sparks Fellowship under the University of Malaya. She also collaborated With the University of Hyderabad, India under the University of Malaya's High Impact Research and was granted a fellowship by the ASEAN-Korea Exchange Fellowship Program, organized by the ASEAN University Network and Korea Association of Southeast Asian Studies. To date, she has had several research and review articles in reputable peer-reviewed international journals (mainly Tier1}, and a few more which are under consideration for publication in leading journals.

Currently she is working on the understanding of pathogenesis of Burkholderia pseudomallei and the host-pathogen interaction which may provide novel therapeutic targets both for enhancing the host's defences and for repressing detrimental responses induced by the invading pathogen.

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