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Kalina Naidoo

Postdoctoral neuronal cell biologist

I completed 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 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-Martins' 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, and gene expression studies involving RT-PCR and qPCR. My first project in the Wade-Martins' lab was under the guidance of Dr Mootaz Salman and involved a collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), where we investigated Parkinson's Disease (PD) gene related iPSC derived dopaminergic neurons. My current project in the Wade-Martins' lab is also a GSK project, where I work with Dr Brent Ryan, where I will be investigating the mitochondrial and lysosomal changes in primary fibroblasts derived from patients with PD.I am especially passionate about PD from an African perspective, as with an aging population in the developing world, 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 degree, Honours degree  (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.