Meet Our Lab Heroes Awards™ 2021 Winners: Dinesh Babu

Meet Our Lab Heroes Awards™ 2021 Winners: Dinesh Babu
1 year ago

Meet Our Lab Heroes Awards™ 2021 Winners: Dinesh Babu

We’re delighted to introduce the third of our Lab Heroes Awards™ 2021 winners, Dinesh Babu!

Dinesh was the winner of our Lab Leader category after receiving an incredible 85 nominations from current and former work colleagues. The category recognises the PIs, supervisors, postdocs or research assistants who bring out the very best in their teams, and Dinesh was acknowledged for his dedication and enthusiasm for science, his mentoring and leadership skills, and the boundless support and kindness he offers to all those around him.

Dr. Dinesh Babu received his B. Pharmacy degree from The Tamil Nadu Dr. M. G. R. Medical University in India, followed by work experience in the pharmaceutical formulation industry. Following a research path, he pursued his M.S. in Pharmaceutical Science from the Yeungnam University (Republic of Korea), and then conferred with a Ph.D. in Medical Sciences from Ghent University in Belgium. 

He is currently working as a postdoctoral fellow at the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Alberta, Canada, and his research interest spans around pharmacology and toxicology of drugs with a special focus on adverse drug reactions. He is currently working on several projects in Dr. Arno Siraki's laboratory, including his primary projects supported by the Mitacs Accelerate Fellowship funded by the Applied Pharmaceutical Innovation (API) - Mitacs Inc., Canada, and the Alberta Innovates Postdoctoral Fellowship in Health Innovation. He is also working as a lead toxicology researcher on a multidisciplinary drug discovery team project, the Immune Checkpoint Program, and has been actively training the juniors on their research projects to facilitate their success. 

We spoke to Dinesh about his career so far, his thoughts on effective leadership in the lab, and his advice for early career life scientists...


Congratulations, Dinesh! How did it feel when you found out that so many of your colleagues had nominated you as their Lab Hero?

I was pleasantly delighted! I was really moved by the applauding words they wrote for me, including my former and current mentors and colleagues. I enjoyed reading all their comments and realised how humbly they shared their opinions about my personality and lab life. While reading each nomination, I couldn’t resist recalling all the nice moments I have spent with each and every one of them. I felt proud to have met such a compassionate network of peers in my research life! Thank you so much to all!


How did it feel when you found out you were one of our Lab Heroes winners?

Winning the award gave me an increased sense of responsibility to do more for the scientific community I am associated with now and in the future. I firmly believe that I was awarded for the cumulative impact of the traits that all the nominees have inculcated in me. So, this award belongs to them all!


What are you planning to use your Hello Bio vouchers and career development grant for?

I plan to use the Hello Bio vouchers to purchase some biological reagents for our laboratory, where I am currently working. I will be using the career development grant to attend a conference or pay for a registration fee for a research-related training program.


Why do you think it’s so important to celebrate life science researchers, and what more could be done to show life scientists recognition?

It's essential to celebrate life science researchers as they spend their time, energy, and life working round the clock on solutions for the betterment of human health. All the things in modern medicine now are the outcome of hours of hard work by many researchers after many negative results and failures. An appreciation in any form, small or big, like the Hello Bio Awards, will undoubtedly boost the spirits of researchers working tirelessly to make the world a safe and healthy place to live! I noticed the interviews of several researchers in the Hello Bio blog, which is certainly a commendable way of bringing life scientists into the limelight and to learn about what they are working on.


You won in the ‘Lab Leader’ category. What do you think are the most important qualities for effective leadership in the lab?

In my opinion, “time management” is the first and foremost important quality for a good “Lab Leader”, which I am still adapting to learn! In addition to work-life balance, I feel the balance of focus and productivity between our core projects and other peers’ projects seems to be very crucial as this decides our “task management”. Secondly, “interpersonal skills” are essential as we meet people and can face challenges of a diverse nature, where each of them needs to be approached and handled differently. Lastly, “team spirit”, whether we work for ourselves or our peers, ultimately, we are going to “win as a team”, and thus a good leader should have a spirit of “oneness”.


Did you always want to be a scientist when you were younger, and if so, why?

Yes, indeed, I have dreamt of becoming a scientist since my childhood. Ageing, disease and death are the three biggest challenges of human life, and I believed from my childhood that these three, if not avoided, could be tackled and postponed, with the help of science!


What do you enjoy most about working in STEM?

Working in science research brings challenges and opportunities to learn and perform something new every day. When I realise that I am working for the health and safety of humans, I feel elated!


Can you tell us a bit more about what you’re working on in the lab currently?

My lab colleagues and I are working on diverse research projects involving agents related to the nutraceutical, drug, and environmental toxicology. I am investigating the mechanisms of action of COVID-19 targeted anti-viral drugs (like remdesivir) and their metabolism. I am also investigating the stability and antioxidant properties of pharmaceutical and nutraceutical products, particularly cannabinoid-based products.


What does a typical day in the lab look like for you?

Well, as we all know, no two days are similar in research life! Some days, it will be a mix-up of meetings, discussions, and planning of experiments with my professor and lab colleagues. Other days get fully busy with experiments on the bench, with only time for coffee and lunch breaks in between.


What do you think are the biggest challenges facing life scientists at the moment?

I think getting funding for research projects is the greatest challenge for anyone in science. The world is wide open now with several opportunities for graduate studies, but early-career scientists always find limited career opportunities after obtaining their PhDs.


What advice would you give to life scientists just starting out in their careers?

From what I have learned from my previous mentors, negative results, failures, and rejections are part of research life; so, one should have patience and perseverance to succeed in research. Additionally, one should be open-minded to learn new skills as science is advancing with new technology every day.


How do you see your career developing in the future/where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I believe my career trajectory so far has prepared me adequately to soon establish myself as an independent academic investigator in a reputed institution, where I hope to establish a laboratory to perform some cutting-edge research on pharmacology and drug toxicology.


Which scientists working today do you most admire?

I have learned a lot from each scientist I have worked with, but the most admirable scientist is my doctoral study supervisor from my alma mater, Dr. Romain Lefebvre, professor emeritus of Ghent University, Belgium. His knowledge, discipline, and dedication towards science are of great admiration; his personality influenced me to become who I am now. Additionally, I admire the inspiring personality of my friend, philosopher and guide, Dr. Srinivasan Shanmugam, of Adare Pharma Solutions, USA.


And finally… what’s your favourite science quote?

“Most people say that it is the intellect which makes a great scientist. They are wrong: it is character.” - Albert Einstein


Thank you so much for speaking to us, Dinesh! And congratulations once again on being one of our Lab Heroes winners for 2021! We look forward to keeping in touch with you and following your career as it progresses.

Find out more about Dinesh’s research:

And you can meet our other Lab Heroes AwardsTM 2021 prize-winners here.


If you enjoyed this article, why not check out the other resources available on our blog. We are passionate about supporting life scientists including early career life scientists and PhD students - with really low-priced reagents and biochemicals, early career scientist grants, and resources to help with both personal and professional development. We know how tough it is - so we hope you find these helpful!

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