[Press and Public Relations] International Research Links Lead to Opportunity for Student



September 2001

No 133

The University of Leicester, UK, is delighted to welcome a postgraduate student from Chennai (Madras), India, one of just eighteen students to benefit from a new scholarship enabling them to spend a year continuing their research in the United Kingdom.

After 18 months’ research in Chennai, a scholarship from the Association of Commonweath Universities means that PhD student Vasantha Malladi can continue her work into molecular pathogenesis (the causes of diseases) at the University of Leicester, UK, under the supervision of a professor who has longstanding research links with Anna University, in Chennai, where she is registered.

It was the work that Professor Peter Williams, University of Leicester Department of Microbiology and Immunology, had done on bacterial infections in collaboration with the Centre for Biotechnology at Anna University, which drew Vasantha to Leicester.

One of just six Commonwealth students to be awarded the new Split Site Scholarship on the basis of nomination by a UK university, she arrived in Leicester in July 2001 and will spend one year at the University, before returning to complete her PhD in Chennai.

Her supervisor at the Centre of Biotechnology, Professor Arun Balakrishnan, had worked with Professor Williams through the ALIS programme (Academic Links and Interchange Scheme), the brainchild of the British Council and the Indian Grants Committee, and a project that encouraged exchange visits between British and Indian scientists for teaching and research purposes.

From Professor Balakrishnan Vasantha heard of the new Split Site Scholarship and the opportunity it offered to spend time at Leicester researching the interaction between bacteria and intestinal epithelial cells. She said: “I was really happy to come to Leicester. Previous scholarships only allowed students to spend two or three months in the UK and so they could only do a limited amount of work. But this one-year scholarship will allow me to do much more work here.”

The Scholarship pays for Vasantha’s air fare and provides a stipend to cover accommodation and food, as well as expenses for warm clothes, books and funds to produce reports on her findings.

Vasantha, whose first degree, Biochemistry, was from Madras University, has visited England twice before, but as a tourist. Studying in the country is very different, but once the strangeness of the first week wore off she has very much enjoyed meeting other international students who, like her, have arrived at the University before the start of term, and she has made new friends.

The British Council has been very supportive and Vasantha has also found her academic colleagues welcoming. “The people in the department have been really good,” she said. “They have helped me a lot with my work and in other ways. This is an excellent opportunity because I am learning different techniques from two different laboratories, in Chennai and Leicester, and gaining a lot of experience.”

Note to editors: A photograph of Vasantha Malladi is available from the University of Leicester Press Office. For further information please contact Professor Peter Williams, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Leicester, telephone +44 (0)116 252 2951, email sam20@le.ac.uk. Vasantha Malladi can be contacted on the same telephone number, or by email, vm24@le.ac.uk.


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Last updated: 03 October 2001 10:30
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