Paayal Kumar

Paayal Kumar

Name: Paayal Kumar

School: School of Biological and Chemical Sciences

Faculty: Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment

Degree of Enrolment: Masters of Science in Chemistry

Research Area: Marine Natural Products Chemistry

Supervisors: Dr. Katy Soapy

Current Research Summary:

Drug discovery offers a bright future for marine biotechnology research. In the last decades, metabolites from marine samples have been extracted and isolated in order to test them in different bioassays and assess their potential to fight human diseases. My project is based on the Fijian Sea Hare, Dolabella auricularia, a mollusc species that have attracted many researchers who are interested in the chemical defense mechanisms of these soft and shell-less snails. It is a large (~ 500 g), herbivorous, opisthobranch gastropod that exists in various colors and is widely distributed on the mudflats in Fiji Islands; usually thrives in areas that are sheltered from rough currents. The previous research has shown that the sea hare contains twenty one cytotoxic compounds amongst which isodolastatin H, dolastain H, doliculide and aurilide were found to be the most toxic. A more recent study has shown that the Fijian cyanobacterial assemblage of Lyngbya majuscula and Schizothrix species contains sonamides A and B, two new depsipeptide analogues of Dolastatin 13 but no research work has been carried out to identify the cytotoxic compounds present in the Fiji D. auricularia. Hence, this research project if executed would further investigate the chemistry of these species including the bioactivity of isolated compounds. Additionally, the food security associated and microbial analysis can also be evaluated. This research would provide us with the extent of toxicity found in the guts of D auricularia and thus, the bioactivity of any metabolites if isolated. Since the species is consumed by indigenous Fijians, microbiological testing will be indicative of its safety as a delicacy. Any isolated compound with noted successful bioactivity can further provide us a lead of its promising pharmacological properties.

Testimonial- Graduate Assistant Scholarship Scheme:

The graduate assistant scholarship has given me an opportunity to further enrich my degree with provisions of research funding to carry out my project successfully. The scholarship has fulfilled my scholastic aspirations; additionally giving me an opportunity to explore and discover the research facets of Science. The scholarship also provides an opportunity to teach undergraduate courses by contributing 8 hours per week towards the faculty. The research work which I will be exhibiting will be potentially towards drug discovery and pharmaceutical prospects recognizing Fiji’s marine resources. This scholarship has changed my everyday life; it has broadened my knowledge as a research scholar, empowered me to contemplate and perform critically, provided me with a better understanding of our natural environment, enlightened my inner confidence and is definitely leading me towards greater innovations and employment advances. I’m honoured for being granted a Graduate Assistant Scholarship at USP by the Research Office and would highly endorse students with educational dreams who wish to pursue their Master’s degree at the University.