by Anodya Mishra
September 25, 2023
After completing his second master’s degree in infection and immunity from a university in the Netherlands, Kunal Reshamwala was looking forward to working in the field of cancer research. However, before moving towards a Ph.D., he wanted to upskill - especially in data science. One day, while scrolling on Instagram, an advertisement popped up about the Applied Data Institute program by Equitech Futures which sparked his interest.
“When I attended a Zoom session that was conducted by Equitech for prospective applicants, I loved the energy of the faculty,” Kunal remarked. He juggled his job as a science communicator as well as the Applied Data Institute in 2022, determined to make the best use of both opportunities.
For Kunal, it was Equitech’s global cohort of scholars that drew him to the program.
“A lot of programs are restricted to a specific country or city, but Equitech was open to all - people from all walks of lives were present in that small cohort of ours,” said Kunal, hailing the diversity of Equitech. He also valued the networking experience, and said, “the space provided us with the opportunity to stay connected with each other and with alumni from past and future programs.” Among other things, Kunal liked Equitech Futures' model of teaching, wherein classes are conducted live and opened up for discussions among the cohort members.
“Live classes help bring accountability into the class structure, which is essential, because in a lot of cases even if students are determined to move ahead, an extra push accelerates their growth,” Kunal shared.
In his capacity as a science communicator, Kunal was responsible for converting research findings of biological and clinical research studies into accessible formats like plain language summaries, infographics, research news stories, video summaries and more. The target audiences for his work included doctors, scientists, and personnel from non-STEM backgrounds.
After spending a year in that role, Kunal has now embarked on his Ph.D. journey at the Cancer Research UK Scotland Institute, University of Glasgow. Kunal shared that Equitech faculty Abhilash Mishra and Bhasi Nair helped him immensely while he was applying for Ph.D programs. “Both of them mentored me during my application process; they advised me on what programs to choose, who to reach out to, and also helped me understand the intricacies of different program types,” he said.
During the course of his Ph.D, Kunal wants to study the behavioral aspects of cancers with regard to anti-cancer treatments. Through his research, Kunal aims to understand how to make immunotherapy more effective since immunotherapy is more targeted and less toxic. Kunal explained, “Some cancers are known to modify their metabolism to promote their own growth, thereby developing resistance to cancer treatments. Through my project, I am trying to alter the metabolism of the tumor to understand if targeting this changed metabolism and reverting it back makes the tumor lose its resistance to immunotherapy to make it a viable option for treatment.”
Kunal further elaborated that his passion for applied research is rooted in its ability to translate into practical solutions that enhance patient care, ultimately leading to more effective treatments and stronger recoveries.
After a great chat about his aspirations and endeavors, I asked him to share a few words of advice for future scholars, and he wholeheartedly imparted, “Just go for it, it’s never too late to learn. Don’t ever let doubt hold you back, because even if you fail, at least you know you tried - it’s better than being stuck in the ‘what if’ situation”. Kunal’s journey stands testament to the wisdom of his words!
Abby Thompson contributed to this article.