Kashmir Scholar Bags Rare US Fellowship, Will Work With Pharma Giant Moderna

by Yawar Hussain

SRINAGAR: Dr Javid Iqbal, a resident of Quil village of Bandipora has bagged the prestigious Northeastern University fellowship in the United States under which he will use Big Data to help design a more efficient drug-development model so that scientists can be more confident that treatments, such as the Covid19 vaccine, will be effective once they reach clinical trials.

Dr Javid Iqbal, PhD Pharmacy, has been selected by an American University for a post-doctorate that will enable him to work with Moderna. the pharma giant that has discovered a series of vaccines.

The fellowship of Northeastern University is in collaboration with Moderna, the biotechnology company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts which created global news last year when it produced one of the few Covid19 vaccines. Moderna is also developing a number of pharmaceuticals, including vaccines for influenza and the Zika virus.

Dr Iqbal would be a fellow of the Northeastern University but would be working at the Moderna Pharmaceutical University.

Dr Iqbal, who did his schooling from local government-run schools in Bandipora went on to pursue his Bachelors in Pharmacy from Al-Amin College in Bangalore before returning flying back home.

He went on to do his Master’s in Pharmacy along with his PhD from the University of Kashmir.

After his PhD, Dr Iqbal went on to teach Pharmacology at the Government Medical College Srinagar but for a brief stint.

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He went on to join a contractual job at KU’s Pharmacology department before grabbing a job at the King Khalid University in Saudi Arabia as an assistant professor. Dr Iqbal has been working there for over three years now.

Talking to Kashmir Life, Dr Iqbal said, “I saw an opening for a postdoctoral fellow on the Linkedin profile of the Northeastern University. I fulfilled the requirements and applied. I got selected.”

He credits his success to his teachers in general but Dr Geer Mohammad Ishaq, a Professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Kashmir, in particular.

Meanwhile, the two-year fellowship for a postdoctoral researcher will give Dr Iqbal hands-on experience in drug discovery, development, delivery, and evaluation.

Dr Iqbal said the relationship between research fellows and Moderna is mutually beneficial.

“It’s the rarest of the rare chance that I will get a direct chance to work with Moderna,” Iqbal said. “That means you get an insight into how things work at the industrial level. Usually, we don’t have that insight, and we have no idea how things actually work at the industrial level, so I will be having the first-hand experience.”

Dr Iqbal, who will begin the fellowship in July, said that it’s an opportunity to bridge the gap between academia and industry.

“What we do in academia doesn’t always translate to the industry we are studying,” he said.

“Here, I’ll be able to develop clinical models which will assist in developing drugs that are administered at the right dose and the right concentration and that produce the right effect.”

The process by which a drug goes from the lab bench to pharmacy shelves is a long and expensive one, filled with rigorous testing and clinical trials along the way. At each step, scientists refine the dosage and potency to ensure maximum benefit with the least amount of risk.

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