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Dr. Prashant Damke - From Bangladore to Fontenay-aux-Roses

Dr. Prashant Damke is an Indian researcher specialized in Biochemistry, currently working as a postdoctoral researcher at CEA-Fontenay-aux-Roses. The research project of his 26-month fellowship is entitled “Unravelling the Helicobacter pylori protein network involved in horizontal gene transfer”.
Published on 23 February 2017

​ In Helicobacter pylori laboratory - © CEA/IRCM

  • What is your professional and academic background before coming to CEA?

I did my Master's in molecular biology in New Delhi. Then I carried out my PhD in biochemistry at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. To be more specific, I was working on a bacterium, the Helicobacter pylori which can cause, between other diseases, stomach cancer. During my PhD period, between June and July 2014, I did a two-month internship at CEA, in the laboratory I'm currently working in, the Laboratory for Research in Genetic Instability (LRIG). I had heard of this laboratory because it is one of the few which is specialized in my field. At the time, together with my laboratory, we agreed that I would enroll there for a postdoctoral position. I quickly applied for an Enhanced Eurotalents fellowship and started my post doc tenure in August 2015

  • ​What is your research project about?

I am part of a small team: the laboratory supervisor, PhD students, two microbiologists from Université Paris-Sud and myself. We are studying the Helicobacter pylori, which is a small bacteria, of about 2 to 4 µm, and trying to understand how DNA is transported from outside to inside the bacteria. I am very happy with the progress we have made so far. We are currently writing a manuscript and we have good prospects in terms of publications.

  • Do you have all you need in terms of facilities and equipment?

Absolutely. The Institute has a great technical support. I am working with equipment I didn’t have the possibility to use before. I was new to several devices: I was trained on confocal microscope with environmental chamber and now I am fairly good at it. I enjoy a lot the fact that everything is at the same place. I don’t have to move to use specific equipment. We are simply missing an electrons microscope but we are able to use it. 

  • Is your work environment international? Do you think it is beneficial?

My laboratory is quite international. There are people from all around the world: Argentina, Italy, Ukraine, and myself from India… Language is sometimes a real challenge, even now. For that matter, I would love to take French classes, maybe in the framework of the Enhanced Eurotalents programme?
I think that having been trained in India in biochemistry is beneficial because I bring a different approach to the laboratory. It is also extremely valuable for me to learn new techniques. All in all, it is great for both the laboratory and me to share scientific knowledge and technical methods.

  • What do you enjoy the most about your stay at CEA?

My lab supervisors are always available for discussion and everyone is really open, we have many valuable collaborators around Paris which is extremely valuable for networking and the access to cutting-edge facilities and technical support.

  • What did you think about the training session named “Post-doc: how to manage your career?” you attended in INSTN (CEA-Saclay)?

 I attended this training session at the very beginning of my stay and I liked it a lot. It made me aware of different career opportunities. We received valuable training on job-hunting tactics, how to prepare a job interview, how to write a compelling CV and cover letter and how to adapt to an industrial or to an academic context. I learnt how to better present myself and I improved my CV, so I think it will be very useful for my career development afterwards. It was a very successful training I reckon. In addition, I met up with other Enhanced Eurotalents fellows and it was really nice to interact with them.

  •  Would you recommend the Enhanced Eurotalents programme?

Yes I would! I actually already recommended it to other PhD friends from India, emphasizing the fact that the project evaluation process is rather short for a postdoctoral programme (3 months).

  • What is your plan after your stay at CEA?

I would like to carry out another postdoc in order to go deeper and explore more things in my field. Furthermore, I would like to build up my own laboratory and train PhD and masters students, in France possibly. I am also open to carrier in Industry.