Mistakes Essential for Development, Says Biochemistry Researcher
‘Completing this degree has sparked a multitude of feelings. I am proud of my triumph; one which bared both struggle and success,’ so said Dr Nikita Naicker upon completion of her Doctor of Philosophy in Health Sciences (Medical Biochemistry) in the School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences.
Naicker, who is a Post-doctoral Research Fellow at CAPRISA, was drawn into and enthralled by the field medical biochemistry as she believed it would afford her an opportunity to study different types of molecules and biochemical processes and hopefully contribute in improving technology and medicine.
Her PhD research, which she believes is a novel study, was titled: An Investigation of the Anti-Hyperglycaemic, Biochemical and Molecular Effects of 4-Hydroxyisoleucine and Fenugreek Seed Extract in Comparison to Metformin In Vitro and In Vivo.The study focused on investigating the molecular and biochemical pathways of a plant extract (fenugreek) and its active compound (4-hydroxyisoleucine) as alternate therapy for the treatment of type two diabetes mellitus.
The study found that the active compound of the plant significantly improved the biochemical changes occurring during type two diabetes. This has great importance in socio-economically challenged communities where type two diabetes mellitus is a common disorder, access to healthcare facilities is limited, and plants serve as sources of easily accessible treatments.
The 27-year-old describes herself as a consistent, diligent and dedicated individual. ‘I firmly believe that mistakes have been an integral part of my development as a researcher,’ she concluded.
With her accomplishment, she would like to thank her family and supervisor, UKZN’s Professor Anil Chuturgoon who have provided unwavering support, perseverance and commitment along her PhD journey. In addition to her accomplishments, she is proud of her sister who recently graduated with Honours in Physics summa cum laude and currently holds a fellowship with CERN, Switzerland.
Words: Lihle Sosibo
Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal