An example of successful grant holder : Shilpa Kumar-Roine

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After obtaining a BSc degree at the University of the South Pacific (USP) I re-enrolled for further postgraduate studies. I was informed of a scholarship offered by the French Embassy in Fiji allowing young graduates to travel to New Caledonia and/or France for a period of training that could lead to a MSc degree. I applied and to my pleasant surprise I managed to obtain the scholarship. The conditions were that I spent 6 months in Noumea, New Caledonia and the other 6 months in Paris, France. A bit sceptical at first, I decided nonetheless, to embark on the journey. In Noumea I got the opportunity to work at the French institute of research, ‘Institute de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD)’ and later on in Paris at the ‘Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS).’ It was during this time that I manage to establish contact with French scientists in my field who would later recommend me on a PhD project on the traditional medicine aspect of Ciguatera Fish Poisoning (CFP), a subject of particular interest to the many of the island countries of the Pacific.

Acquired through the consumption of tropical reef fishes that are contaminated with ciguatoxins (CTXs), CFP is both spatially and temporally unpredictable. Furthermore, a tainted fish is impossible to tell apart from untainted one by appearance, taste, texture or odour. Given the predominance of reef fish in the diet of the insular countries, the risk of CFP is ever-present and has severe impacts on public health and important socio-economical repercussions, especially in the Pacific zone where its incidence is the highest. Unfortunately, to this date no antidote is known. The western medicine has failed to provide a solution to this age old malady. On the other hand, the alternative medicine, which is an integral part of Oceanian culture, is richly practised in the treatment of CFP in the South Pacific. Though numerous anecdotal reports attest the beneficial effect of use of such remedies, their efficiencies have yet to be proven in scientific-based studies. It is in this regard that my PhD research ascribes to, focusing on development of high throughput screening systems for detection of the presence of bioactive molecules in the plants having the desired effect against the noxious action of CTXs.

My researches in France and New Caledonia have led to publication of 4 research papers in international peer-review journals listed below. Today I am on the verge on finishing off my PhD. The French Embassy has re-financed my studies; this time the last year of my PhD degree. Professionally and personally, the years I have spent in New Caledonia and France have been great in building my technical skills and scientific knowledge. They have also been rich in encounter and have offered me a unique opportunity to experience firsthand the French language and culture. To anyone wishing to undertake higher studies in France, I highly recommend it without reserve.

Research Papers:
Kumar-Roiné, S., Frostin, M., Al-Mourabit, A., Duigon, A.G., Pusset, J., Sadaquat, A., Sauvain, M., Sotheeswaran, S., Laurent, D., 2005. Antimalarial cyclopeptides from Lissoclinum patella (Gottschaldt). ACGC Chem. Res. Comm. 18, 25-28.

Kumar-Roiné, S., Matsui, M., Chinain, M., Laurent, D., Pauillac, S., 2008. Modulation of inducible nitric oxide synthase gene expression in RAW 264.7 murine macrophages by Pacific ciguatoxin. Nitric Oxide 19, 21-28.

Kumar-Roiné, S., Matsui, M., Reybier, K., Darius, H.T., Chinain, M., Pauillac, S., Laurent, D., 2009. Ability of certain plant extracts traditionally used to treat ciguatera fish poisoning to inhibit nitric oxide production in RAW 264.7 macrophages. J. Ethnopharmacol. 123 (3), 369-377.

Matsui, M., Kumar-Roiné, S., Darius, H.T., Chinain, M., Laurent, D., Pauillac, S., 2009. Pacific ciguatoxin 1B-induced modulation of inflammatory mediators in a murine macrophage cell line. Toxicon doi:10.1016/j.toxicon.2009.05.039.

Published on 28/07/2016

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