• Name: Arpit Kumar Pradhan
  • Number of lab members or colleagues (excluding PI): 9
  • Location: Munich, Germany
  • Graduation Date: 01/05/2019
  • Grants: 4
  • H-index: 2

Hello! Who are you and what are you working on?

I am Arpit and I am currently working as a clinical scientist at Klinikum Rechts der Isar, Technische Universität München. I work in the field of neurodegeneration. My area of research is Alzheimer’s, and I also specialize in bioinformatics.

The main project that we are currently working on is a clinical research on how to handle neurodegeneration. Alzheimer’s as we all know is a progressive disorder and it causes memory degeneration. There are no current treatments for Alzheimer’s. We hope that in the upcoming years our research will play an essential role in the development of therapeutics.

What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

In the initial phase of my research, I was always interested in case studies. I would randomly go through different studies posted in any research paper or any lab site. And one such case study which influenced me was of an acquired savant patient. The patient never had any training in music but following an accident in which his brain was badly injured, he became one of the finest pianists.

This was quite amazing for me. Particularly because among the several sets of neuronal connections, only a few patterns of neuronal connection are attributed for a particular skill set. And a head injury leading to that particular pattern among the several other possibilities was quite thought-provoking. I started looking for internships which involved different aspects of the brain.

I started with circadian rhythm and Huntington’s disorder research, followed by Parkinson’s and then took up work involving Alzheimer’s during my doctoral studies.

Please describe the process of learning, iterating, and creating the project

The process of creating a project starts with identifying the elements that are unknown. This then frames the broad base on which your major goal of research is based. The most essential thing is to have patience. There might be unexpected circumstances or environments which could affect the research. But it is essential to stick to the basics, take your time and connect the dots to reach the big picture. Some of the essential points to always look while doing a research:

  1. Collaborate with people from different skill sets. My work always requires collaboration with scientists from different backgrounds.
  2. Active interaction with your colleagues always helps you gain new insights and have a fresh perspective to the project.
  3. There is no one way to solve a particular research problem. Having a fresh outlook and a broader mindset always helps.
  4. As they always say “Learning never stops”. This phrase becomes quite essential for researchers. When you are working on a project it becomes very important to stay updated with the development in that particular field.

Please describe the process of launching the project

We have been working closely with the clinicians and some of our research projects directly involve research that would mimic a clinical setup.

How is everything going nowadays, and what are your plans for the future?

I am currently mid-way to completing my doctoral thesis. Apart from my work in the clinic I also try to work on several other research problems. One of such was our recent work on COVID-19 where we did an extensive in silico study to look at the compounds which could prove beneficial in the therapeutics of COVID 19. One of the most essential outcomes from this project was that we figured out the genes which are conserved and the ones which have a higher chance of mutation.

I would look for other research positions after my doctoral thesis to gain more insight before having a lab of my own. I am particularly interested in the interface of sleep research and neurodegeneration.

A detailed schematic representation of the SARS-CoV-2 viral genome.
The figure represents the detailed view of structural and non-structural proteins (NSPs).
Source: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0248553

Through your science, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

Every challenge brings along with it, a new set of experiences. I have learnt several things during my journey which I would like to share:

  1. Take deadlines strictly.
  2. There can be a number of issues. But as long as you don’t open up, no one can help. Always share what you are going through with your colleagues and friends.
  3. Developing ideas can be fun but also a tedious process. Remember “Rome was not built in a day”.
  4. While discussing your project, it’s essential to take feedback. I have learnt a lot from the questions that were asked during my talks or presentations.

We’d like to know more about your lifestyle. Please let us know what is your morning routine.

My morning always starts with a hot cup of coffee. I do riyaaz (vocal exercise) for a few minutes before jumping into the schedule. The next thing is to look at the mailbox and then schedule the day with experiments or any other appointments.

And how does a typical day look for you?

  • Scheduling the experiments in the day
  • Attending any scheduled talks/seminars
  • Experiments
  • Reading journals in between
  • Listing the experiments for the next day
  • Updating my to-do list and leave for home
  • Practice guitar/piano before cooking

What does your workstation look like?

I do not have a very complex workstation. I have a desktop, a diary to keep my notes, my lab note, a whiteboard and of course a bunch of stickers (to keep reminding me of the upcoming deadlines). I also have these beautiful quotes from a bollywood movie “Zindagi na milegi Dobara” on the top of my desktop.

What platform/tools do you use for your professional life?

  1. Mendeley: to maintain my digital library with all the research papers that are of my interest.
  2. Benchling: keeping notes and research protocols in digital form.
  3. Zoom: for meetings and conferences.
  4. Imaging tools from Imaris.
  5. Professional networks such as LinkedIn and ResearchGate.

What secondary software and apps do you use daily?

Gmail, Google Calendar, and Outlook.

How do you stay up to date on news and resources?

For research I mostly stay updated through Google Scholar, PubMed or Nature updates. For regular news I use inshorts and other online platforms.

What have been the most influential podcasts, or other resources?

TEDx talks have been pretty amazing. Especially the ones by Prof. Manu Prakash about his frugal innovations. I also listen to the talks by Gaur Gopal Das which helps to keep me calm and have a fresh perspective.

What tools do you use in your personal life? Cook? Self-Care? Hobbies?

I am a musician and this helps me in keeping myself balanced in different situations. I like to keep learning different musical instruments. The keyboard being my favourite.

Cooking different dishes is also a brilliant way to keep myself focused when things are not going my way.

Advice for other scientists who want to get started or are just starting out?

  • Start out with the research which is the most intriguing to you.
  • Build your ideas on the work that has been established.
  • Keep yourself updated with the research in the field.
  • As they say “all work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy”. Enjoy every opportunity and you will have no regrets.
  • Keep networking and happy researching!

Thank you very much for your time, Arpit. Where can we go to learn more?

ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Arpit-Pradhan

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/arpit-kumar-pradhan-a465a7a2/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/arpitstar/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/arpit.pradhan.58/