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UKZN scientist scoops international award

Dr Sooraj Baijnath, the 2020 Bioanalysis Rising Star
Dr Sooraj Baijnath, the 2020 Bioanalysis Rising Star

Dr Sooraj Baijnath, an honorary research fellow in UKZN’s Discipline of Pharmaceutical Sciences, has won the international Bioanalysis Rising Star Award. Baijnath competed against internationally recognised young scientists from countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, India and China. He is the first African and South African to have scooped the prize.

The Bioanalysis Rising Star is a prestigious annual award recognising the most promising early career scientists in the field of bioanalysis. Sponsored by Waters Corporation, the aim is to promote the work of highly talented researchers, offering a springboard to help them get established in the exciting world of bioanalysis. Baijnath’s prize includes an all-expenses paid trip to the Waters Corporation in the United States to learn about the latest technologies in the field.

On receiving the award, Baijnath commented: "It has been overwhelming to see the amount of support I have received globally. I would like to thank the award sponsors, Waters Corporation, and Bioanalysis Zone for this opportunity."

A recipient of the National Research Foundation’s 2016 Excellence Award for Next Generation Researchers as well as the UKZN College of Health Science’s Teaching and Learning 2018 award for the Best Emerging Teacher, Baijnath’s research career started during his master’s degree in medical science that saw him develop an animal model to study changes in physiology and molecular biomarkers at different stages during a pre-eclamptic pregnancy. During his PhD, he was extensively involved in the evaluation of antibiotics, targeting tuberculosis meningitis in animal models using LC-MS and mass spectrometry imaging (MSI). He conceptualised an innovative project during which various cryoprotectants were compared as lung inflation media with the aim of preserving lung structural integrity during sample preparation, after noting a shortfall in current MSI protocols.

Baijnath has recently moved to Uppsala University in Sweden to take on a position as a researcher in the Medical Mass Spectrometry Department. Baijnath was nominated for the award by Dr Sanil Singh, who commented: "Sooraj’s skills have been recognised nationally and internationally by being part of the DIPLOMICS South Africa Mass Spectrometry Society and being a successful co-applicant on a seeding labs equipment grant and a STINT Swedish collaborative grant. His skills are of the highest standard, having received training at the Bruker headquarters in Germany and at Uppsala University in Sweden."

- MaryAnn Francis

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