Dr. Shalaka Samant completed her undergraduate training towards becoming a registered pharmacist at the University of Mumbai in 2002. During her term there, she has studied drug formulation, dispensing, pharmaceutical chemistry, pharmacology, and pharmacokinetics. She was the recipient of the University gold medal for her exemplary academic record at the Mumbai University.
Dr. Samant then went on to pursue a PhD (2002-2008) at the University of Illinois-Chicago, College of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmacognosy.
The Center for Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, where she carried out lab rotations and later her focused Ph.D. research, is home to several labs that work in the areas of new drug discovery and development, primarily by understanding the mechanisms of action of various key drug candidates such as anti-cancer agents and antibiotics.
Specifically, Dr. Samant worked on identifying molecular mechanisms that help Bacillus anthracis, the causative agent of the lethal anthrax infections, to multiply in human blood leading to septic shock, and ultimately death.
Her findings showed that DNA biosynthesis is very critical for pathogens to colonize human blood. Her graduate research findings led to three peer-reviewed, archival journal publications. During her graduate studies, she was the recipient of the prestigious American Heart Association predoctoral fellowship award.
After obtaining her doctoral degree, Dr. Samant migrated to Yale university, New Haven to work as a postdoctoral research associate in the lab of Dr. Jorge Galan, a renowned gastrointestinal infectious disease researcher.
Here her work was focused on the identification of the molecular mechanisms that cause the gastric pathogen, Campylobacter jejuni to invade and multiply in host intestinal cells. Her stay at Yale made her well-equipped to carry out cell-based studies in the field of microbial pathogenesis.
Later, Dr. Samant worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Angel Lee, a macrophage development and signalling researcher at the Texas medical center, University of Texas-Houston. Here, she studied the role of kinases in the development of early bone marrow cells to macrophages.
Dr. Samant then returned to India in 2010 and worked for almost a decade at a biotech company, Anthem Biosciences Pvt. Ltd., in Bangalore. Here she was the team lead heading a group of scientists to address various research problems in the broad areas of protein expression and cell-based drug assays. During this time she has also mentored several graduate students towards their dissertation research in diverse areas such as therapeutic protein expression in different hosts and development of cell-based assay platforms for analysing drug action.
Dr. Samant has functioned as the principal investigator on several biotechnology research projects funded by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Govt. of India.
Her work was focused on probiotic research, green chemistry, and improved therapeutic protein expression systems. Therefore, she has over a decade of expertise in the areas of molecular biology, strain manipulation, and synthetic biology amongst other areas which are a fundamental part of the drug discovery and development process. Her recent interview for the Summer 2019 issue of The Pharmacist – University of Illinois-Chicago publication, showcases her many achievements.
In September 2019, Dr. Samant started a biology consulting company, Biombrella. Through Biombrella, Dr. Samant lends her technical expertise to various research queries in the life science space with specific focus on microbial biotechnology, molecular biology and green chemistry. She also continues to apply the principles of pharmacognosy, medicinal chemistry, drug process development and product formulation, learnt as part of her undergraduate training, to tackle the real-world problems facing stakeholders in the healthcare business.
Dr. Samant has provided expert reviews for nutraceuticals and supplements in terms of product composition, safety and efficacy of ingredients, whilst since 2020 has been able to apply her expert knowledge and experience to her role of contributing author and editor for the Penis Enlargement Resource website.
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