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Ajay Mishra

Favourite Thing: Thinking about crazy but useful and doable experiments, brainstorming with colleagues about a scientific problem and very importantly thinking about making simple presentations about my work which even my mother can understand.

My CV

Education:

University of Oxford (2006-2010)

Qualifications:

D.Phil

Work History:

Cancer Research UK and King’s College London

Current Job:

Senior Research Associate at Centre for Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine

Employer:

King’s College London

About Me

friendly, happy and curious scientist

I was born and brought up in India. I come from the same state where the “Taj Mahal” is! I came to United Kingdom to pursue and develop my scientific career. I live in a small village called Linton near Cambridge with my wife and my 4 year old son (who has just started his schooling this year). Other than science, I am very passionate about cricket, music and food.

My Work

Understanding how our skin is maintained throughout our life.

Skin is the largest organ of our body. It provides us our first line defense against all sorts of environmental stresses like heat, infections, radiations, excessive water loss etc.

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Our skin is much more complex than how simple it looks from outside.

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We loose a lot of cells all the time from the outer surface of skin and this loss is replenished at the same time. This way we regenerate a completely new skin almost every two weeks. This phenomenon is successfully achieved mainly because of the stem cells, which are present in most of our tissues including skin, by virtue of their ability to divide and generate more cells to maintain the tissue where they reside.

The top layer of skin is called epidermis which is composed of multiple layers cells called keratinocytes (because they have abundant amount of protein called keratin). In this tissue the bottom most layer, called stratum basale (or basal layer), has the stock of stem cells which can divide and transform to replenish for the loss of cells from the topmost layer called stratum corneum (or corneum layer). Its a wonderful phenomenon which provides a great model system or tool to study and understand regeneration of our body’s tissues.

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I am trying to recapitulate this phenomenon in my lab and break open our skin cells to study the different changes they go through to establish and maintain the architecture of our skin. This is a simple and elegant way to investigate and identify what goes wrong in a disease condition like cancer.

My Typical Day

Having fun designing and doing the experiments, communicating with colleagues and students

I am an early bird. I wake up at 5 am, catch 6.25 am train to London to go to my lab. I enjoy my 1 hour quiet train journey where I can read and plan my whole day at work. As soon as I reach work, I love to look at the cells which I am growing in my lab to give them a good morning smile and check under the microscope if they are doing well. Rest of the day is mixed with doing experiments, discussing new questions with other scientist, mentoring students and of course a few essential coffee breaks.

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In the evening back at home I play with my son and read stories to him.

What I'd do with the money

online platform that would make learning a much more fun experience

I would like to creating an online platform to convert complex scientific ideas into a funny, pictorial (probably like cartoons) presentation, which would make it easy for everyone to understand. As some old wise person said that a picture is better than a thousand words.

This platform would not be limited to making a pictorial representation or a cartoon movie but it can also make use of natural or in-natural metaphors that would make it easier to explain any complex scientific scenario.

On this open platform anyone can raise problems or issues that he/she finds it tough to understand and at the same time anyone can come up with ideas to explain these problems in a funny and easy way.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Curious, positive and friendly.

Who is your favourite singer or band?

My current favourite is Ed Sheeran and Adele. I loved Amy Winehouse. However, my all time favourite is Kishore Kumar (an Indian singer).

What's your favourite food?

Thin crisp authentic Italian pizza and Indian khichadi (kind of a rice and lentil soup)

What is the most fun thing you've done?

On one of our school’s annual functions we gave a musical performance using different sorts of kitchen utensils.

What did you want to be after you left school?

Singer and writer…but did not follow it seriously.

Were you ever in trouble at school?

Not really. I was shy and yet very friendly with everyone

What was your favourite subject at school?

Biology of course!

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

For me being a scientist is mostly about contributing to a team effort for discovering something new and useful. I cannot think of any personal credit.

What or who inspired you to become a scientist?

One of my father’s friend who told me that scientists generate ideas and vision to improve our society and everyone else are just the followers. This idea got stuck into my brain.

If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?

Social worker or could be a singer in Bollywood!!!

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

A world changing idea, Nobel prize and three course meal everyday :-)

Tell us a joke.

What do trees have that dogs do? ‘Bark’

Other stuff

Work photos: