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For 2 decades, this Indian scientist has been striving to find a treatment for an incurable disease

Think Change India
23rd Feb 2018
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When a cure is discovered for some serious illness, it’s a relief for the diseased and just another news for a common man. However, we never realise the effort made by scientists for years to find the cure. Today, we will talk about one such man, an Indian-origin chemical engineer who is a professor at Stanford University. Fifty-three-year-old Chaitan Khosla has dedicated almost two decades to find a treatment for an incurable disease.

Image Source: Stanford News

Chaitan has been doing research to find a treatment for celiac disease, which is presently an incurable disease. His work is contributing immensely to the advanced research going on to find its cure.

Chaitan did his chemical engineering from Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT-B) in 1985, and then did his PhD from California Institute of Technology in 1990. Presently, he is a chemical engineering professor at the Stanford University. Chaitan says that the research on this disease is not just a professional choice but also a personal one, as it has also affected his family.

Celiac disease is a long-term autoimmune disorder which affects the body’s digestive system. The body is not able to digest a protein called gluten which is found in majority of the food a human consumes. The disease can affect a person from any age group, and an individual becomes susceptible to several other diseases. Since the body is not able to digest food, the afflicted suffers from malnutrition, making him prone to other diseases like anaemia, diarrhoea, and cancer.

Chaitan works together with gastroenterology professor Gary Grey, from the same university to find a treatment for this incurable disease. His team has seen success to a large extent in their research. Their first major contribution came in 2001 when they published their research paper having an in-depth study of gluten and its effects on the body.

Chaitan’s team emphasised on how the lack of certain enzymes in body can result in indigestion of glutens. The team then went on to do research on two types of enzymes that can help with its digestion. The experiment has already been a success in the lab, but there is still a long journey ahead as the human body is much more complex.

Chaitan’s work is appreciated across the globe, and he has received several awards and accolades for his contributions. He has received numerous awards including the Alan T. Waterman Award in 1999, the ACS Award in Pure Chemistry in 2000, and the James E. Bailey Award in 2011.


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