Tuberculosis researchers lead scientific workshops for grad students in India

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Above: Graduate students at South Asian University participate in a workshop led by scientists in the CSU Mycobacteria Research Laboratories.

Ian Orme, a University Distinguished Professor and renowned tuberculosis researcher, was uncharacteristically emotional when he recalled a young Muslim woman who recently attended a scientific workshop in New Delhi.

A scholar wrote this verse to express appreciation for the scientific workshop.

Fatima Tuz Zehra, a quiet scholar who wore a niqab veiling all but her eyes, was among 20 graduate students at South Asian University who learned about flow cytometry and metabolomics during sessions led by Orme and five other guest instructors from Colorado State University. As three days of focused lab work and scientific discussion drew to a close, she stood and recited hand-written verse extolling the gifts of knowledge and skill that she and other participants had received from the CSU team.

“It was so touching,” Orme recounted, with tears in his eyes. “These students are going to be the top biomedical scientists in their region, and they have access to top-of-the-line flow cytometric devices. We were very pleased to help them learn how to use the equipment to further their studies.”

Boosting learning and discovery

Orme and Rajiv Saxena, an emeritus professor of life sciences and biotechnology at South Asian University, initiated the workshop in India after the two international colleagues spearheaded a memorandum of understanding between their universities. The agreement is expected to generate additional workshops, as well as student and faculty exchanges, that boost learning and discovery at both institutions.

Orme, who helped establish the CSU Mycobacteria Research Laboratories, also hopes the connections help recruit promising graduate students and post-doctoral fellows into the research labs of CSU investigators.

“Programs like this provide us with diversity by attracting people from different countries. This allows us to draw in the sharpest people on the block,” he noted.

Five CSU faculty and staff members, who research aspects of tuberculosis, traveled to New Delhi for the workshop, with program funding from the Office of International Programs and the Office of the Vice President for Research.

Marcela Henao-Tamayo, co-director of the CSU Flow Cytometry and Cell Sorting Facility, led sessions to teach Ph.D. scholars and other young scientists how to use flow cytometric technology to analyze cell characteristics. The group also delved into the role of metabolism in immunity, an area of investigation for Orme and his colleagues.

“It was great. We worked with a bunch of very good and very interactive students,” said Delphi Chatterjee, a professor in the CSU Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology, who likewise studies the bacterium that causes tuberculosis in an effort to develop drugs that will halt the global scourge.

South Asian University is a fledgling institution likely to offer many opportunities for scholarly exchange as it grows, Chatterjee said.

“We think there will be quite an influx of students and faculty both ways,” she said.