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Kalina Naidoo

Research Assistant

Having just finished my DPhil in Psychiatry at the University of Oxford (St Catherine’s College, 2021), where I researched the effects of gut microbial products on the anterior pituitary gland, I was keen to start my next project. I have always been interested in neurodegeneration and worked on HIV-Associated Dementia back home in South Africa during my master’s degree, looking at potential autophagic effects of the HIV-1 Tat protein, and wanted to return to the field and found myself intrigued by the research output of the Wade-Martin’s lab. My DPhil project was molecular based, where I honed a plethora of wet lab skills such as cell culture techniques like vector transfection, protein analysis such as western blots and ELISA assays, gene expression studies involving RT-PCR and qPCR, and I was looking to stay in the molecular field but broaden my skillset as I pivoted into PD research. My current project under the guidance of Dr Mootaz Salman, involves a collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), where we will be investigating PD gene related iPSC derived dopaminergic neurons. I am especially passionate about Parkinson’s disease from an African perspective, as with an aging developing world population, neurodegenerative disorders will soon be a great burden to health systems that do not have the financial resilience to cope, and in my future would like to focus on projects with a sub-Saharan perspective.  

My DPhil was fully funded by the Commonwealth Scholarship. I have also completed a master’s by Research in Psychiatry at the University of Oxford (St Edmund Hall, 2016) fully funded by the Cecil Renaud Oversees Scholarship, as well as a Masters, Honours (cum laude) and undergraduate degree (cum laude) in Medical Sciences at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal (South Africa) which was funded by the National Research Fund of South Africa.

I also serve as an advisory board member for German Hospital architecture firm, Pansanté, who are working on building modular hospitals in developing Africa, where I will help structure their access initiative, Pansanté Academy, which will involve upskilling architecture and engineering students from developing Africa. I am passionate about teaching, and tutor neuroscience to undergraduates in the Oxford Prospects and Global Development programme throughout the year. I am also a keen advocate for increasing access into STEM from underrepresented demographics (lower income, POC) and have done mentorship and access work throughout my graduate years and plan to keep at it – so please do contact me if you’re seeking advice or have a programme geared towards access initiatives in the university.