Subashan aims to find cures for tropical diseases

PETALING JAYA: A final-year medical student from Universiti Malaya (UM) will be heading to University of Oxford in his quest to find cures for tropical diseases.

Subashan Vadibeler (pic), 24, said he will be pursuing two Master’s programmes consecutively in the United Kingdom, namely his MSc in Integrated Immunology and MSc in International Health and Tropical Medicine.

Named the Rhodes Scholar-Elect 2021 (Malaysia), Subashan was awarded the prestigious international scholarship recently to study at the 924-year-old university.

Born in Ipoh where the Nipah virus was first seen, he said he has come to realise the importance of addressing neglected tropical diseases, especially dengue.

“These diseases usually have an immunological basis which we haven’t fully uncovered so it’s an area with a lot of potential in terms of prevention, treatment and risk stratification for patients,” he said in an interview.

Subashan, who is also active in community activities organised by UM’s Medical Faculty, has been working with urban poor communities in the Klang Valley.

“This was where I became aware of the stark disparities present in our city, and how these inequalities further self-perpetuate themselves through predisposition to diseases,” he added.

He said that he plans to become a clinician-scientist working on tropical infectious diseases after he returns from his two years at University of Oxford.

On the scholarship interview process, he said it was “quite rigorous”.

“But I tried to bring the best version of myself by staying true to myself and my cause,” he added.

Locally, the Rhodes Scholarship is awarded in partnership with Yayasan Khazanah.

According to the foundation’s website, the scholarships are postgraduate awards supporting exceptional students from around the world to study at University of Oxford.

“The Rhodes Scholarship is the oldest and perhaps the most prestigious international scholarship programme in the world, which aims to nurture public-spirited leaders for the world’s future,” it said.

While congratulating the student from her faculty, the university’s medicine dean Prof Datuk Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman enthused that she was “so very, very proud of this young man” in a Facebook post on Tuesday.

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