Mr Sooraj Baijnath, Academic Leader: Research at UKZN.

UKZN Academic Finalist for Bioanalysis Rising Star Award

Academic Leader: Research at UKZN, Mr Sooraj Baijnath, became South Africa’s first ever finalist for the international Bioanalysis Rising Star Award when he was selected as one of the six contenders.

‘I feel really honoured to be selected as the first ever finalist from South Africa, especially in a field of internationally-recognised young scientists from countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, India and China,’ said a visibly elated Baijnath. ‘I am grateful to have been able to prove that even if one is from humble beginnings, nothing is beyond your reach with hard work and dedication.’

The Bioanalysis Rising Star is a prestigious annual award recognising the most promising early career scientists in the field of bioanalysis. Sponsored by Waters Corporation, the aim is to promote the work of highly talented researchers offering a springboard to help them get established in the exciting world of bioanalysis.

Baijnath’s prize includes an all-expenses paid trip to the Waters Corporation in the United States to learn about the latest technologies in the field.

‘If I win the award I hope to use the exposure to bring back knowledge that can improve the bioanalytical research we are currently doing at UKZN, to build collaborative networks as well as improve the training of postgraduate students by imparting the knowledge I gain,’ he said.

The six finalists, nominated from the top 26 entrants, are expected to share their profiles and a promotional video created by the organisers with various social media platforms and to their networks to enable voting.

The eventual winner of the award will be determined by a public vote. Voting will be done through the link below: https://www.bioanalysis-zone.com/2020/05/11/bioanalysis-rising-star-award-finalist-sooraj-baijnath_brsa_20/

‘I have been following the Bioanalysis Zone for a while now to stay in touch with the latest technology related to my field of research,’ said Baijnath. ‘I noticed the link for nominations in one of their recent newsletters and decided to enter.’

He said being selected as a finalist was totally unexpected, especially given the quality of other young scientists around the world and the infrastructure they have access to.

‘This field involves the use of analytical techniques to measure and study important biomolecules in biological samples. Currently, my work involves the use of mass spectrometry to study the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic changes associated with the drugs used in the treatment of important neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease, Major Depressive Disorder, opioid addiction, TB meningitis, HIV associated neurocognitive disorder and the use of cannabinoids.’

For Baijnath, the award serves as motivation to continue his scientific endeavours as well as the training of undergraduate and postgraduate students. ‘If I win this, I hope the exposure will inspire me to pursue my dreams, while it gives me the tools I need to hopefully change the world one day.’

He was recently appointed as Academic Leader of Research in the School of Health Sciences and is a senior lecturer in the Discipline of Pharmaceutical Sciences. The holder of a PhD in Pharmaceutical Chemistry, he is also an Experimental Pharmacologist who is a Principal Investigator at the Catalysis and Peptide Research Unit.

Plaudits include having 40 publications in international peer-reviewed journals and being the recipient of the 2016 National Research Foundation award for the Next Generation Researcher awarded to the best PhD student in the country.

He has also received research support grants to support his drug discovery research using bioanalytical methods. His work has twice been featured on Medical Briefs and the UKZNdabaonline newsletter, for ushering a new age in pre-clinical drug discovery using mass spectrometry imaging.

Said Baijnath: ‘My parents weren’t always well off but they placed great emphasis on the importance of a good education. It is through their dedication to my education that I have achieved these accolades and I hope that my story motivates other students.’

To help Baijnath win the award, follow the link below to view his profile and then cast your vote:

https://www.bioanalysis-zone.com/2020/05/11/bioanalysis-rising-star-award-finalist-sooraj-baijnath_brsa_20/

Words: Nombuso Dlamini

Photograph: Supplied