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Meet The Scientists Sushila Bhattacharya

Sushila Bhattacharya Ph.D. is a highly determined scientist who thrives on getting exciting new results. Her principal investigator Dr. Kurt Warnhoff said of Sushila, “When she sets out to address a scientific question, she can be very tenacious.”

Dr. Sushila Bhattacharya is a Staff Scientist in the Warnhoff Lab at Sanford Research. The Warnhoff Lab studies the biology of the molybdenum cofactor which is essential for life. The lab uses a model organism called Caenorhabditis elegans to learn about the metabolism and genetics of the cofactor. C. elegans is a very small worm that can be found in nature. Dr. Bhattacharya’s latest project is to learn more about stones, which build up in worms as part of purine homeostasis.

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Jaunpur (Uttar Pradesh) but raised in Shillong (Meghalaya) India.  I developed a love for science as I explored the jungle by my house and investigated wildlife. I lived in different cities such as Kolkata, Hyderabad, and Lucknow in India for higher education and jobs. I wanted advanced training in science and hence joined UMASS Medical School as a postdoc in Massachusetts. My native language is Awadhi. However, I use mostly use Hindi for conversation with my family and fellow Indians. 

What is your education background?

I did my undergrad in Biotechnology (Major) & Masters in Biochemistry from Northeastern Hill University, Shillong, India. I then moved to Lucknow worked at the Indian Institute of Toxicology Research. I was awarded my PhD in Biochemistry from Chhatrapati ShahSu Ji Maharaj University in Kanpur, India.

What are you currently working on?

My job is in research and development. I conduct experiments in the lab, generate and analyze data, and establish new protocols. I also present the results in meetings and at conferences and publish them in reputable journals. As a staff scientist I mentor graduate students and summer undergraduate students. Currently my project is focused on “Understanding function of uncharacterized deaminase, xse-1 (xanthine stone enhancer-1) in purine homeostasis in C. elegans.”  Most of my time is taken up in doing lab experiments and presenting data. We work with C elegans as our model organism, so I am always setting up genetic crosses, genotyping, cloning, generating transgenes, performing stone penetrance assays, and doing xanthine quantification routinely.

What do you do for fun outside of work?

I love to read or listen to podcasts and audiobooks related to psychology, philosophy, geopolitics, and autobiographies of great scientists. I also enjoy watching classical dance like Oddisi dance and various forms of ballroom dance. In summer, I enjoy spending time in outdoor pools.

Who do you look up to?

The life and work of some scientists has truly touched me. I am inspired by people like Marie Curie, Nikola Tesla, Barbara McClintock, Vikram Sarabhai, Lalji Singh, Katalin Karikó as they were truly passionate about science. 


More about her journey to Sanford Research:

Bachelor’s Degree- Biochemistry-Northeastern Hill University

Master’s Degree- Biochemistry- Northeastern Hill University

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)- Biochemistry- Chhatrapati ShahSu Ji Maharaj University

Post-Doctoral Fellowship- University of Massachusetts