Dr. Tapas Mal

Currently I am at the Ohio State University (OSU)—one of the largest universities in the United States—as a Principal Investigator and Director of the Campus Chemical Instrument Center for Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (CCIC NMR). After completing my doctoral studies (D.Phil.) in Biological Sciences at the University of Oxford, England, under the supervision of Prof. Iain D. Campbell, F.R.S., I joined Prof. Mitsuhiko Ikura’s laboratory in 1998 at the Ontario Cancer Institute for my postdoctoral studies to enhance and improve my knowledge, skill and expertise in biomolecular NMR. I was particularly attracted to Dr. Ikura’s laboratory as his research examined structure-function relationship of key biological macromolecules that are important for many biological processes, such as transcriptional regulation and Ca2+ signaling, by multidisciplinary approaches including NMR.

I had wonderful experiences working in his laboratory and it was a stepping stone to the next stage of my career. In 2000 he promoted me as a research associate and NMR Projects Manager, where I was responsible for managing NMR related projects and mentoring doctoral students, summer trainees and postdoctoral fellows. These skills enabled my smooth transition to pharmaceutical companies where management is imperative to succeed. I always wanted my research to have direct application in the development of new and/or improved drugs to treat human diseases and therefore made a move to Pfizer (formerly Wyeth Research) in 2007 after a short venture in AstraZeneca, India.

After few years in industry I realized that my heart was still in academia and in early 2012 I moved to my current position. Though it was a short venture in the industry, I had a great experience learning about the complex drug discovery processes, starting from target selection to pre-development in several diseases, such as cancer, inflammation, cardiovascular and metabolic syndrome. At my current position, I wish to establish a similar pro-gram in academic settings. The CCIC NMR facility offers high-field NMR service to support research, education and training across all OSU campuses. My immediate challenge is to revitalize the CCIC NMR facility by bringing new equipment, upgrading current instrumentation and increasing visibility within the OSU research community. My long-term goal is to expand current facility by adding new capabilities such as metabolomics, micro-imaging and solid state NMR to enhance multidisciplinary research at OSU. I love my current job as I have the opportunity to directly interact and confer with students and postdoctoral fellows regarding their study and research work. One thing I always mention to students and postdoctoral fellows is to think big and out of the box about their research problems. This is important as it will prepare them to be at the forefront of modern interdisciplinary research and succeed in the future.