An Indian-born scientist, who is part of a team of professionals from Oxford University working on a project to find a vaccine to protect against coronavirus, is honored to be part of a humanitarian cause linked to the hopes of the world to the result.
Chandrabali Datta, born in Kolkata, works in the Clinical Biomanufacturing Facility of the University's Jenner Institute, where Phase II and III of human trials are carried out with the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine as a possible tool to combat the deadly virus.
The 34-year-old's role as a quality assurance manager means that it is her job to ensure that all levels of compliance are met before the vaccine can go into the testing phase.
"We all hope it will work in the next phase. The whole world is looking for this vaccine," said Ms. Datta.
"It's like a humanitarian thing to be part of this project. We are a nonprofit that puts extra hours every day to make this vaccine successful so that lives can be saved. It's a huge team. I am honored To be part of this project, "she said.
While her own "close-knit" team of 25 experts on the vaccine production side is highly gender-specific, Ms. Datta wants to encourage young girls in India to question a perceived male dominance in the life sciences.
"If you are motivated and ready for a challenge, this is your area of expertise. Nowadays, biotech and pharmaceuticals have the same ratio of men to women, so there are many opportunities," she said.
"The scientific field is not overpaid, so if you want to be successful in this field, you have to get rid of your materialistic desires. But if your motivation is really high and you are ready to fight, this is a very rewarding field of work. It gives a lot of appreciation for your hard work because ultimately you improve human life, "she says as a message for young girls considering a career in life sciences.
Ms. Datta, who studied engineering and biotechnology in Kolkata, was interested in biology and mathematics in her childhood. She studied computer science and even worked as an associate software engineer at Accenture in India. However, due to its "developing and inventive" potential, it was withdrawn back into biotechnology.
"My childhood friend studied in Nottingham, which inspired me, and the UK is known for equality and women's rights. That's why I chose my Masters in Biotechnology from the University of Leeds," she recalls.
"It was a real struggle – to leave India and come here. My mother was not too happy that her only child moved countries to study. But my father was always ambitious for me and said I should chase my dreams and none To make compromises." ," She said.
During this time, Ms. Datta's laboratory experiments balanced the shifts in the supermarket and pizza restaurants to cover the cost of living. After graduation, there were other difficulties in the form of a job search, which proved to be extremely challenging and involved creating hundreds of applications a day.
Her persistence paid off when she got a job with pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline as a research and development scientist for inhalers. Through her hard work and hard work, she quickly rose until she worked at Oxford University about a year ago, where she is part of one of the most discussed vaccine projects worldwide.
"I need to make sure that all of our departments are compliant, that everyone is trained in what they do and that they follow all standard operating procedures (SOPs). In this project in particular, my contribution was to check that everything is compliant and that the SOPs are complied with No mistakes were made, "she explains.
But working as a key worker at the front of the pandemic through the lock meant that her parents in Calcutta were constantly concerned about her safety.
While she manages to keep in touch with family and friends in India through regular WhatsApp calls, Ms. Datta hopes that she can be with her parents for her annual Christmas trip by the end of the year.
"We have never seen such a pandemic in our lives. We have read history but never thought that we would actually experience such a pandemic in the 21st century, which means that we have to be locked up in our homes for months. The main thing is to make human life normal again and save lives, "she said.