23 September 2015 Volume :3 Issue :44

Honours Student Presents Research at College of Health Sciences Symposium

Honours Student Presents Research at College of Health Sciences Symposium
Professor Kriben and Ms Siddharthiya Pillay.

High achieving UKZN Honours Medical Biochemistry student, Ms Siddharthiya Pillay, delivered a presentation on the susceptibility of young Indian men to coronary artery disease (CAD) at a recent College of Health Sciences (CHS) Research Symposium.

The study by Pillay (22), the daughter of College of Law and Management Studies’ Dean of Teaching and Learning, Professor Kriben Pillay, was supervised by Professor Anil Chuturgoon and Ms Prithiksha Ramkaran,  and titled: “MicroRNA miR-27a rs895819 Polymorphism is Associated with Increased IL-6 levels in Coronary Artery Disease in young South African Indian Patients”.

‘I investigated the rs895819 SNP in young South African Indian males with early-onset CAD compared to Indian and Black controls, and correlated the polymorphism to various clinical parameters.’

Pillay said rs895819 SNP was a genetic variation that could alter the inflammatory process in the body, possibly causing cardiovascular disease. She said it was significant to conduct this study in a South African Indian sub-population because it had the highest incidence of CAD compared to other South African sub-populations, and also had an unparalleled incidence of CAD that occurred one or two generations earlier than in other sub-populations.

‘I chose this career path because it opens up a variety of fields such as genetics, epigenetics, metabolic diseases, cancer research, all of which are shaping the development of medicine and therapeutic interventions. I want to improve the healthcare of people and contribute to enhancing the treatment of diseases, especially for those people who cannot afford private healthcare and medical aid.’

Pillay obtained her Bachelor of Biomedical Science degree summa sum laude and received Dean’s Commendations and Merit certificates for her modules at UKZN in addition to receiving the prestigious Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship Award. She is a member of UKZN’s Golden Key Society and scooped the Zeiss Microscopy Award for scoring the highest aggregate in functional cell architecture as well as the LTC and Norma Beare Memorial Awards for the highest aggregate in third-year biology.

She was also awarded the National Research Foundation Innovations Scholarship for her Honours year of study.

Pillay said she was grateful to her supervisors, family and friends for their guidance and support. ‘Although I know my study has further to go, presenting at the symposium was an opportunity to gain insight into the work of other researchers in this field which may enhance my study.’

Passionate about transforming people’s lives from a medical and health care perspective, Pillay said she intended to pursue a Master’s degree in Medical Biochemistry at UKZN.

Lunga Memela


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