A not-for-profit cause: Mentoring-Outreach-Research-Entrepreneurship (MORE): www.bioclues.orgPrashanth Suravajhala
I grew up in a house of middle class family like many Indians do. Whence schooling and undergraduate studies,I had a penchant towards Computer Science but was afraid of programming. However I wanted to stick to Biology as a major; with my ordariness prevailing doing experiments in the laboratory, I wondered if I could chose a combination of Biology and Computer Science.
‘Bioinformatics’ then was a bland. The internet began her revolution and so was in India in the latter half of 1990s bringing the Bioinformatics to evolution. After my undergraduate studies part-timing as an IT tutor, I entered university with Masters in Biotechnology. I was connected early with molecular biology techniques that allowed me to ask questions on how bioinformatics can be time-honored with the experiments we made. A lot of time was spent on testing questions related to lessening the scale of experimentation. I gained research and project experience which instigated my thought process to activities. My wife a chemist then was working next door and together we moved to Denmark to start our Ph.Ds. Mentoring young undergrads was still on top of my mind, so one of my netizenry friends who also started his PhD in Bioinformatics and I setup Bioclues.org, a virtual organization. As a part of my PhD research, I was captivated to see so many ‘hypothetical’ candidates in question in gene banks, thanks to the spurt of genome sequencing projects. My PhD adviser was very kind to listen to my injudicious thoughts and swiftly I acclimatized to the ‘international’ conditions. I was all alone a budding bioinformaticist among a group of wet-lab researchers working in the lab. I enjoyed staying in my office piggy-backing my proclivity for questionnaire, attending conferences and meetings to reward my PhD. I was more than happy that we could work on hypothetical proteins specific to DNA repair proteins that the lab was working and we further coined a term hypothome (an interactome of hypothetical proteins).
With a small time postdoctoral experience, I set my foot back to India working for government sector. The five or less years I spent in Denmark during my first stretch, the freedom that I guzzled there was not reminiscent in India. The‘re-acclimatization’ factor, this time on scientific and inflexible grounds was a huge setback for me. I resigned moving for small stints as a visiting researcher in several labs outside India. I felt, I failed to meet the expectations of my well-wishers and pondered if I could set my goals launching our virtual organization Bioclues.org onsite in India. I always enjoyed teaching online courses and tasking educational activities at Bioinformatics.org. With my experience as one of the Directors of Bioinformatics.org, I felt I should be able to set myself as an Entrepreneur. With a small team size of four, I moved to the genome valley in India establishing Bioclues.org onsite. My bioinformatics academic experience provided me good choice to write grant proposals but the majority of Indian think-tank was not congenial to invite Bioclues for that the organization is not-for-profit and more to that, the idea of Open Access research and mentoring ‘voluntarily’ was considered a taboo.
My wife who would question my chores not the failures was always supportive of my thoughts and energies that I keep while I appear unsuccessful. A couple of years after meeting failures again, my growing arrears and aging family necessitated me to move back to Denmark with still earned voluntary titles: Founder of Bioclues,org, Associate Director of Bioinformatics.org. All these days, I was contented that I was running my own funded lab and tried to publish often, if not so-called high impact factored journals.But it wasn't long before I realized that I wasn't competitive to become entrepreneur and then I started war footing finding jobs as a Scientist. I have a fair clairvoyance that I quit jobs earlier, but not the hope.
My vivacities for research,predilection for publishing, willingness to collaborate, networking and love for mentoring kept me alive for job hunt. Many of my friends and erstwhile colleagues find me whimsical but I am glad that I have experimented and taken up the challenges before my mid-thirties which bring to my present professional realization.At the end of the day, I am glad that Bioclues.org rose to heights the last 10 years wherein we have been privileged to have mentored over 500 graduate students, with many of them established as early career scientists. What more one could ask for? On a personal ground, I enviably turned my failures to opportunities not success. I await for the ‘S’ word even as I get reminded of Robert Frost’s quotes, “But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep.”