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Siddharth Sai Matikonda, Pharmacy Graduate


PhD, BPharm(Hons)

Position now

Staff Fellow, National Institute of Health, National Cancer Institute.

Your Otago experience

Being part of the School of Pharmacy's Gamble lab was an incredible opportunity. I loved working closely with Dr Gamble formulating ideas, writing grants and experimentally realising them. The experience greatly helped me improve my scientific communication and thought process. I found the bioorthogonal prodrug activation strategy that we developed an immensely rewarding project with real-world applications in chemical synthesis and drug delivery.

For my thesis, “Development and applications of strategies in prodrug chemistry”, I received an exceptional PhD thesis award. My work has also been widely recognised and appreciated by the chemical biology crowd. Some of the publications that have come out of my PhD have been cited over 100 times.

Apart from the research opportunities, I was fortunate to present my work at prominent national and international conferences. One of these trips landed me a postdoctoral position at the National Institute of Health (NIH) in Maryland, USA. This eventually led to the current full-time NIH Staff Fellow position at the National Cancer Institute, where I develop new antibody drug conjugates involving near-IR uncaging strategies based on cyanine photochemistry.

Despite the proximal limitations, the University of Otago played a key role in enabling students to socialise with the global scientific community. The postgraduate networking opportunities helped me make friends that I stay in touch with regularly. Since I left Dunedin, there has not been a day that I have not remembered or cherished my time at the School of Pharmacy and Otago, in general. The experience made me a better scientist and significantly contributed to my personal development.

The life-long friendships that I developed with my peers, supervisors and folks outside the School of Pharmacy are unmatched. The rewarding projects I got to work on, along with a terrific PI and amazing peers, has been a perfect cocktail to help me be the scientist I am today.

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