Mithun Das, PhD student and IMNIS Mentee in the 2017 IMNIS MedTech-Pharma program – La Trobe University (VIC) [Image: Keaton Mackenzie Crosse]

“…Communication and networking not only opens doors of opportunity but also helps to generate novel ideas.”

I am Mithun Das, a second-year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Microbiology at the La Trobe University. Besides my doctoral research work, I am participating in Industry Mentoring Network in STEM (IMNIS) MedTech-Pharma program in Victoria as a mentee. In my Ph.D. research I am working on the identification of novel human immune host factors responsible for control of viral infections, which will lead us to find novel and/or more efficient drug targets against viral infections. I am using CRISPR/Cas knockout library screening tool to identify novel host factors responsible for the viral infection control in human. The novel mechanisms related to these host factors of viral infection control will also be studied using CRISPR/Cas knock out tools. Regulation of antiviral mechanisms by regulating the functions of the target host factors will allow hosts to control viral infections. I have completed my M.Sc. in Experimental Medicine from McGill University, Canada where I studied pathophysiological immune responses in cystic fibrosis patients following viral and bacterial infections. In addition, I also worked on therapeutic uses of vitamin D analogues as antiviral and anti-inflammatory in cystic fibrosis patients following infections. Before my M.Sc. study I worked as a research assistant at the Center for Advanced Research in Sleep Medicine (CARSM) located at the Hôpital du Sacré-Cœur de Montréal, Montréal, Canada. I completed my B.Sc. (4 years) in Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering from Khulna University, Bangladesh, where I worked on the development of safe probiotic yoghurt for human consumption. My participation in vast areas of biological, medical and biotechnological research enhanced my basic and clinical research knowledge. Finally, my work experiences from diverse global work environments have provided me with perseverance to perform effectively in my area of interest and helping me to fulfill my career goals.

Why are you participating in the IMNIS program?

Being a second-year Ph.D. student in the area of biological and medical research, I felt that it is the right time to prepare myself for the next stage of my career. As a full time research student in an academic laboratory, I do not have experience of working in the industrial environment. Therefore, participating in the IMNIS internship program is a great opportunity for me to get to know how the industry works, what the industry expects to have in a science graduate beside academic knowledge, and what are the key points that I need to improve to get involved in the industry after my graduation. 

What is the most important aspect of this professional relationship for you?

I feel privileged for being part of this great mentorship program and having a mentor who is a leader in the research and development department of one of the biggest multinational companies. I believe it is a great opportunity for me to know more about how it works in the industry directly from an industry leader. My mentor is providing me with many networking opportunities, especially by introducing me with the leading industry employees who have a science background like me, so that I can learn more about their transition from student life to industry and plan my career.

What do you hope your mentor can help you achieve and what is the best piece of advice you have received so far?

With the directions of my mentor, I have already set some plans to identify the skills I have and the skills I need to improve to become a resourceful professional not only in the industry but also in the academia. I have also started to build a strong professional network with the support of my mentor. The best advice I have received so far from my mentor is “talk to like-minded people even if they are not working in the same area, because communication and networking not only opens doors of opportunity but also helps to generate novel ideas”.

What are the top 3 key things you hope to learn through the IMNIS program?

I believe the work environment in industry and academia is a bit different. Therefore, I hope that the IMNIS program will help me:

  • Learn how to identify academic experiences that are transferable to the industry.
  • Identify the professional skills that I have and skills that I need to improve to become a successful professional in the industry.
  • Learn about the factors that the industry professionals consider most in an innovative idea.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of the IMNIS program for you so far?

The most rewarding aspect of being part of this program is being able to ask questions directly to an industry leader to enrich my knowledge about the industry environments. This program has been a great platform for me to build a strong network with the industry professionals and learn more about the skills that the industry leaders look for in a potential candidate. Furthermore, this program not only connected me with my mentor but also with the other mentees, mentors and the organisers of this program from whom I am learning about a vast area of industry and academic professions where my knowledge and experiences can be transferable.

What are your favourite hobbies/interests

I like traveling to new places, sightseeing, experiencing various cultures and traditions, reading books, gardening, volunteering for social cause, etc. Sports have always been the area of my great interest. I like playing chess, cards, badminton, soccer, cricket and trail running, and I have been actively participating in these sports throughout my school, college and University years.

LinkedIn: Mithun Das