In January this year, mosquito-borne Zika virus began cropping up in the US and spread to 33 countries, causing birth defects.
Zika is a disease caused by the zika virus through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito that transmits dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever. The disease can also be transmitted from pregnant mother to baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth.
As pregnant women are more prone to zika virus diseas, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), advised women to avoid becoming pregnant, in some cases for up to two years.
As threat of Zika increased, a team of researchers in the US recently cracked Zika structure, in a major breakthrough. For India, the success became a reason of proud, as one of the team members is a Meerut-based girl, Devika Sirohi.
Now, let us know more about 29-year-old Devika Sirohi, who was born and brought up in Meerut.
Devika's education & career
- Devika completed her schooling from the Meerut-based Dayawati Modi Academy.
- She did her graduation in Biochemistry honors from Delhi University and went on to pursue M.Sc from Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai.
- Five years ago, Devika began her journey from India to USA, when she began pursuing PhD in 'Structure and Maturation of Flaviviruses' from Purdue University located in West Lafayette, Indiana.
- Devika, Purdue University graduate student, is said to be the youngest member of a team of seven researchers, which has for the first time determined the structure of Zika virus, a challenging task.
- Devika, a graduate research assistant, is now all set to submit her thesis by the end of this year.
- She is the co-author of "The 3.8 Å resolution cryo-EM structure of Zika virus"
"All is well that ends well", says elated Devika Sirohi
Talking to TOI, Devika said, "It took us four months to identify the structure of the virus", while adding this discovery will help doctors and researchers to find a cure for the deadly disease that has been reported in 33 countries."
Devika revealed that decoding the structure of Zika was a major hurdle and also expressed happiness over the fact that now it would be possible to create effective anti-viral treatments and vaccines.
Besides Devika, other six researchers who were part of the team are:
Zhenguo Chen, Lei Sun, Thomas Klose (Postdoctoral research associates)
Michael G Rossmann( Biological sciences professor)
Richard J Kuhn (Purdue Institute for Inflammation, Immunology and Infectious Diseases director)
Theodore C Pierson (Chief of the viral pathogenesis section of the Laboratory of Viral Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, Allergy and Infectious Diseases)
What proud parents of Devika say:
Devika's parents-- Mr SS Sirohi and Ms Reena Sirohi are Meerut-based doctors. Her father is a pathologist and her mother is a pediatrician.
Her proud father was quoted saying as, "It is a matter of pride not only for my family, because she is my daughter, but for the whole country that an Indian was part of the team that made this breakthrough."
Home Minister Rajnath Singh today congratulated her saying the entire country was proud of her achievement.
Here's what he tweeted:
Congratulations to Ms Devika Sihori from Meerut who is part of the US team that has successfully decoded Zika virus.— Rajnath Singh (@BJPRajnathSingh) April 6, 2016
Ms Sihori has not only made her family proud but also the country feels proud of her achievement. Congratulations to her family as well.— Rajnath Singh (@BJPRajnathSingh) April 6, 2016
The achievement of Ms Devika Sihori highlights the importance of girl child education. Our focus should be on 'Beti Bachao Beti Padhao'— Rajnath Singh (@BJPRajnathSingh) April 6, 2016