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Meet our brilliant minds: Dr Supriya Raj

Dr Supriya Raj is a Senior Research Coordinator at Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.

Tell us a little bit about your background as a researcher and what influenced you personally to become a researcher.

I am a dentist by training. By chance, many moons ago, I got an opportunity to help with the making of a documentary on the use of aerial pesticides and its health effects on a small community in South India. That was a defining moment for me and I went on to do my Masters in Public Health at Deakin Uni. I did a research project focusing on acculturation and food habits in a migrant population and that was my first foray into the world of research. I loved the entire experience and appreciated the honesty and trust with which life stories were shared with me… and I haven’t looked back since.

How did you become involved in the study and what did your involvement entail?

I first heard about the company and the molecule at a conference and remember thinking that this would be amazing if it worked. Fast forward a year and we were part of a trial. I started as a study coordinator for the natural history study and also helping out with the drug trial in whatever capacity I could (on some days this is getting lunch for the team at 3pm because no one has had a chance to even breathe deeply). I must admit running a clinical trial is an entirely different ball game and I have had a steep learning curve these past years. I now help manage over 10 clinical trials and it is exciting times ahead.

What does this research and being part of it mean to you?

I have been involved in many grant funded research projects over the years and it has been frustrating sometimes when I don’t get to see something fully finished. This is the first time I have been involved in something truly translational where I have also had the opportunity to witness the results. I have been seeing some of these families for over six years now and I am constantly amazed by the family’s commitment to the trial and the kids’ resilience. Giving a young child a daily subcutaneous injection and completing all the paperwork correctly while trying to get organized and get everyone out the door cannot be easy! In a small way, I feel like I am part of their journey and to me that is a privilege.