Karthikeyan Kumarasamy’s phone kept ringing non-stop on Wednesday. The 32-year-old research scholar at AL Mudaliar Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Madras, was flooded with compliments, inquiries and requests after The Lancet Infectious Diseases Journal on Wednesday published a paper he co-authored with UK-based scientist Timothy Walsh on a deadly superbug that threatens to spread across the world.
It has been a long journey for Kumarasamy, from a Tamil medium government school in Vellakoil in Erode district in Tamil Nadu to Cardiff University’s research lab. “I owe it all to my parents and teachers,” he says. As a student, who was always keen on microorganisms, he did his Bsc in microbiology from Navarasam College of Arts and Science, Narachalur. He then moved to Nammakkal for post-graduation.
His interest in bacterial infections grew when he joined a small private hospital, Lotus Hospital, in Erode. “Working as a microbiologist in 2000, I tracked the bacterial strains that caused a common hospital-acquired infection. I was thrilled to see them under the microscope then,” he says. Ten years later, he mapped the superbug in Chennai and went on to work on the find at Cardiff University in the UK.
He moved to the Madras University for his Phd in drug-resistant bacteria in 2007. When UK-based Walsh visited the campus for a lecture, Kumarasamy was introduced to the scientist by Padma Krishnan, a faculty member and a member of the team which studied the superbug. “We are so proud of him,” smiles the University institute’s microbiology department head Dr Thangam Menon.