Newton-Bhabha alumnus becomes Fellow of the Royal Society

The Indian clinical scientist and Newton-Bhabha alumnus, Dr Gagandeep Kang, has been made a Fellow of the Royal Society, the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence. Royal Academy Fellows are distinguished scientists recognised for their exceptional contributions in the field of science.

Dr Kang has received multiple awards and fellowships including from the Indian Academy of Science and Faculty of Public Health UK. Dr Kang is renowned for her work on viral infections in children. Her Newton-Bhabha project on rotavirus (a highly infectious stomach bug that typically strikes babies and young children) received a special mention at the inaugural Newton Prize in 2017. This project was part of the Global Research Partnership involving UKRI's Medical Research Council, the Department for International Development and Indian Department of Biotechnology.

Her project focused on improving rotavirus vaccination to reduce infant mortality in Sub Saharan Africa and India where vaccine effectiveness is 43-66%. The project was also launched in the UK where the vaccine effectiveness is high. As a part of the project infants from birth to 16 weeks of age were studied to understand how intestinal bacteria, early exposure to natural rotavirus infections, and co-administration of oral vaccines such as polio effects rotavirus vaccine performance. The results of this research could potentially influence vaccine implementation policies in India and other countries. To address the need for qualified people to take this work forward, the team is developing the capacity of clinician scientists in India and Malawi in vaccinology, microbiome studies and bio-informatics through workshops and mentoring programmes.

Dr. Kang said: "The Newton-Bhabha partnership has been an incredible learning experience for all of us in India, Malawi and the UK. The heterogeneity of human immune response to oral vaccination cannot really be appropriately understood, or addressed, without studies that compare populations."

Find out more about Dr Gagandeep Kang and her work on the Royal Society website.