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Heidelberg Alumni International


“I really miss the feeling of the Heidelberg Campus with its intellectual vibe”

Dr. Geeta Devi Sharungbam
Dr. Geeta Devi Sharungbam

Dr. Geeta Devi Sharungbam, Biologist and Radio Onkologist at Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali in Mohali/India

Postdoc at Heidelberg Ion therapy center at Heidelberg University Hospital from 2009 to 2011


Why did you decide to come to Heidelberg?

In 2009 I heard about hadron therapy facility in Heidelberg from my postdoctoral Mentor in Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in Mumbai, India. He was very fascinated by the idea of using the hadrons for cancer therapy. I was inspired by him to apply to Heidelberg Ion therapy center in Heidelberg University Klinikum.


What were your experiences in Heidelberg?

I got to work on a novel radiation therapy modality using carbon-ion for treatment of cancer. This was really exciting and a new experience for me. My stay in Heidelberg Ion Therapy center formed the grounding for my research in the area of molecular oncology. I acquired great experience working with Dr. Amir Abdollahi. I still remember his enthusiasm about science. I am looking forward to come and collaborate with him. Also I remember my German colleagues who could improvise the experimental as well as software needs readily in couple of days according to our requirement. We never use to get stuck because of the need of something. I learnt to be meticulous and systematic from my German colleagues. I miss Heidelberg:  the beautiful, serene, clean and organized town I ever experienced with its fairy tale charm. I really miss the feeling of the Heidelberg University campus with its intellectual vibe.


What did you like best about being in Heidelberg? What suggestions would you have for improvements?

I admire the punctuality of Germans and the high quality technology which were developed in Germany. Also the way Germans balance their career and family is amazing.

As per my experience some improvement is required in accepting the skill workers from outside Germany. Open hearted acceptance of the skill workers who have come to work in Heidelberg on temporary basis will boost the research outcome of the region. For instance if there is a group discussion going on and if one person does not know German language then that has to be respected and discussion has to be in English or in a language which everybody understand, until the person learns how to speak German language within specific time frame. Otherwise German language skill has to be made mandatory for foreign nationals for working in Germany.


What is your view of the German scientific system in comparison to that of your home country or to that of other countries where you may have conducted research?

I am completely inspired by German scientific system. The kind of collaboration and affiliation a group leader can establish has no limit and boundary. This allows exchange of infrastructure, knowledge and ideas allowing faster growth. In India still the system is very stuck because of bureaucracy, only couple of institutes like TIFR, NCBS, NCCS and CCMB could come out of bureaucracy and they are functioning extraordinarily.


In your opinion, what is the importance of international exchanges for researchers?

International exchange for the researchers is an amazing process which will foster further collaboration, exchange of knowledge, ideas and infrastructure. This will also allow scientists to excess facilities which are rare in the world  e.g. the Ion therapy facility in Heidelberg Ion therapy Center where I have worked is available only in couple of cities in the world. India still does not have one. So if I want to continue research on this I will have to visit one of these places where this facility is available. This is an excellent opportunity for scientist like me.


How did your career continue after your time in Heidelberg?

I have continued working on molecular oncology and embryonic stem cell biology as a Research Associate in IISER Mohali, India. I am trying to understand the role of mitochondrial gene in cell growth.  I had a break in between for child care.


Do you recommend a research visit to Heidelberg University to your students or to colleagues in your scientific network?

Yes, I would like to recommend to my colleague and students. Two of our students have recently visited Heidelberg for a conference in Kongresshaus.

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Latest Revision: 2016-08-29
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