combacte-magnet News Item

Dr. Nithya Babu Rajendran Reflects On COMBACTE-MAGNET

Collaboration was key to the success of COMBACTE-MAGNET. Hundreds of researchers enjoyed the opportunity to join forces with colleagues all over Europe and make a difference in the field of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) research. Dr. Nithya Babu Rajendran was one of them.

What made you choose to work as a researcher?

“I had a general interest in science as a child, particularly in biology and physics. As I grew up physics became more abstract whereas biology started to provide answers to questions I had about life and human existence. While knowledge and techniques advanced, I found myself drawn to molecular biology and biotechnology. I eventually obtained my masters in molecular biology and biotechnology, and a PhD in molecular microbiology.”

What was your role in COMBACTE?

“For the last eight years, I worked on EPI-Net, one of the four pillars of COMBACTE, part of COMBACTE-MAGNET. The overall objective of the network was to create a platform for researchers and experts on AMR to work together and improve our understanding of the epidemiology of AMR.  This was a complex endeavor with several studies and projects running in parallel focused on different research questions. My role was multifaceted, I wasn’t only doing research, but was also in charge of coordinating and managing all the different activities taking place in EPI-Net. I  thus project managed, ran studies, and coordinated communication.”

What has been your contribution to AMR research?

“I’ve been very lucky to be a part of this project and all the contributions are the result of great team effort. We’ve achieved a lot together, and I’m particularly proud of the EPI-Net website that we built as a central data repository for epidemiological data on AMR. It’s a unique platform and is incredibly useful for AMR research now and into the future.”

What did you enjoy most about your work in COMBACTE-MAGNET?

“Our main goal was to improve patient health outcomes, future trials and clinical research. It was a one-of-a-kind project with high ambitions. I  enjoyed the challenge, and what was really interesting for me was the atmosphere of cooperation. We worked closely with academic and EFPIA colleagues from within and outside the COMBACTE’s consortia. By building strong partnerships with other European and global initiatives, we were able to share knowledge and experience, reducing duplication of work and increasing efficiency.”

What was the personal impact of your work experience in COMBACTE-MAGNET?

“It allowed me to look beyond scientific research and delve deeply into the concepts and techniques of project management. Among others, I gathered extensive experience in team leadership and communication, effective budget and staff planning, risk mitigation, internal and external stakeholder liaison, as well as intercultural competence. Skills that not only help to run trials in an academic environment but can be applied in any other profession. My work in COMBACTE-MAGNET has helped me take my management skills to the next level.”

How did you experience the collaboration with pharma?

“It was a unique experience in that you meet these interesting individuals who bring in a completely different perspective to academic research, one that is less traditional and that focuses on sustainability. For them, it was vital that we developed tools that had longevity. For example, pharma was interested in a business plan for EPI-Net. We built a lot of infrastructure in COMBACTE not to mention tools, which lead to EPI-Net being sustained in Ecraid.”

What do you see as concrete results of COMBACTE-MAGNET?

“In a nutshell, I would say strategic resources in the battle against AMR and infectious diseases. As part of EPI-Net, for example, we developed nine consensus documents and published 21 peer-reviewed journal articles. We also established two public service tools, the EPI-Net website which brings in data on AMR which is easily accessible to anyone around the world, and there’s the AMR Travel Tool which is designed to reduce the spread of AMR through travel.”




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