In the years since he launched his own biomedical research institution, Dr Sameer M Dixit has worked with the Nepalese government on major disease outbreaks, nurtured a pipeline of talented young researchers and proven that research is both vital and viable in an emerging nation.
A PhD from Western Sydney University was the icing on the cake for Dr Dixit, whose passion for biomedical science led him from his home country of Nepal to complete his studies in the US and then Australia. When he returned home in 2005, he instantly landed a role within one of the nationís top universities in Kathmandu.
It was here he would later join forces with colleagues and establish the independent research institute, Centre for Molecular Dynamics Nepal (CMDN). Just over a decade on, a fledgling team of five has expanded to over 60 employees, with collaborations with the Nepali Government, the World Health Organisation and global research institutes.
Dr Dixit's also keen to establish a student exchange program or research collaboration with his alma mater, which awarded him International Alumni of the Year in 2017.
‘One of the things I’m proudest of is that we have established a health and environmental research unit in a country where research is completely neglected,’ Dr Dixit reflects. ‘In a country where people say there’s no money for research, we’re doing it. Receiving the award was an honour and a recognition of the daily hardships I face.’
The CMDN conducts field and lab-based studies on some of the major infectious diseases in Nepal. The results inform national policies and help prioritise interventions. ‘One of the biggest barriers to proper treatment is diagnostics.’ Dr Dixit explains. ‘One of the other areas we focus on is awareness. When education is low, awareness around disease control is low.'
Private funding from International research agencies, donors and academic institutions have sustained the Centre. Beyond improving health outcomes for Nepal, the institution enables its researchers to shape a brighter future for themselves, in a country where such opportunities are limited. Since the launch of CMDN, several other nongovernment research institutions have also sprung up.
‘I want to see Nepal become a destination, not just for its natural beauty, but also for science and research,’ says Dr Dixit. ‘For me, this is just the beginning. ‘There are so many more things our research can do for the country and the globe.’