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Shubhra: Discovering hope, one step at a time

Ophthalmology research done by undergrad Shubhra Rajpurohit

Shubhra Rajpurohit, a senior in cell and molecular biology, knows that there’s more than one way to make her mark on the world around her and improve other people’s lives. From her extracurricular passions in cultural groups and community volunteering to her research through the CURS program, Shubhra never stops working to bring knowledge to others and shed light on new discoveries in the medical field.

Since her first semester at Augusta University, Shubhra has been heavily involved in campus activities. She’s been a senator in the Student Government Association, a Student Ambassador, and has participated on the Student Health Advisory Council (SHAC), and several other committees and organizations. She’s also an integral member of the Indian Cultural Exchange (ICE) and has served on the executive board as the Vice President. “I’m very close to my culture, so a lot of my time outside of school activities was doing traditional or cultural activities.”

It’s these organizations and other activities with her fellow students that make Shubhra realize just how important her work is. Her research began in the CURS Summer Scholars program, and eventually evolved into the project for her undergraduate thesis with the Honors Program, advised by Dr. Manuela Bartoli. “My research is in ophthalmology. We work with retina of premature infants…a broad aspect of it is that we try to find biomarkers that identify disease progression and to get a better diagnosis. That’s basically the focus of my research, is to identify these biomarkers called micro-RNAs and somehow either use them as diagnostic purposes or block them and use them as treatment.”

She’s been recently recognized for her research, too, at the College of Sciene and Mathematics Honors Recognition Ceremony, where she received the Dianne C. Snyder Distinguished Service Award and the Biological Sciences Outstanding Senior award. In the lab, Shubhra is very thankful to Dr. Bartoli and her other mentor, Menaka Thounagjam, for giving her chances to go deeper into her research in disease prevention.

Her family also remains one of the most influential forces on her mission. “I have my family next to me. I’m from Augusta, so my dad and my mom have always been a very great support,” Shubhra shares. Her maternal grandfather left a strong impact on her family as well, and even though he passed before she was born, she still feels his influence. “I’ve always heard really, really cool stories about him…So, I think if I really was given the opportunity, I would take advantage of that and hope to see him and talk to him and actually get to know what my mom was like…so I can compare and contrast how I am to my mom at my age. I would truly like to meet him.”

Shubhra’s ready to share her research with the world, and received a great chance to do so at the international ARVO conference with scholars from all around the world. “I had the opportunity…to present my poster as an undergrad, this tiny undergrad with these pioneers of the research you read about all the time. People from all over the place, like Hopkins, and even Georgia Tech and MIT…very, very, known schools. And they would come up to me and ask questions, and it was like—oh, I’m doing something.” That something, making even the smallest discoveries and differences in medical research, is what Shubhra strives for. She’ll do whatever it takes to make a difference for those who need it.

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