TTT #14: "The Ups and Downs of Research" with Abdulraouf Abbas

Careers Apr 20, 2020

Biotechnology is a vast area that provides a blend of theoretical biology and innovation to create a new product. Amongst the endless scopes offered by the field, Abdulraouf Abbas discusses the avenues that interest him the most.

A potential cure for cancer, for example, is something biotechnology has been working on extensively. Abdulraouf delves into some of the work he is involved in concerning the same. The key idea behind his work for cancer is delivering a target antigen to a lymph node, educating the t-cells, and developing a lead for a particular tumour.

Biology, medicine, sciences: these can be interesting but equally intricate and complicated. And going into these fields with a half-heart implies that one would not be able to enjoy it. Abdulraouf feels passionate about immunology, molecular genetics, and related fields, so much so that he missed his classes to volunteer in a biology lab. According to him, if you enjoy the process, it would never seem like hard work, just something that you are interested in and want to devote yourself to.

Once you have that (the reason for why you want to pursue these fields) defined, hard work becomes very easy to do, and in fact, you look forward to difficult concepts you have to grasp.

Such was his commitment to the field that no amount of rejections provided a hindrance to what he wanted to do. After tons of moments of listening to a no to work in a laboratory, Abdulraouf finally got an opportunity to work in a biology lab, one that usually did not work with those pursuing masters. And the constant presence of such undeterred perseverance and self-belief helped him throughout his career.

As and when Abdulraouf got exposure, he came across fascinating avenues challenging perceptions, such as using a virus to insert a gene to cure diseases. He mentions how we can manipulate HIV to have a positive effect. And all the new insights that he gained strengthened his passion, making him want to explore further.

In a field like research, one is bound to get stuck at certain moments. It is common to undermine one’s abilities during these low points. But Abdulraouf believes that mentorship and reaching out can help us get through it, but only as long as we continue to have the self-belief that we did when we started.


Ritika Singhal

Along with Zubair Junjunia

Senior year student passionate about social justice and inclusive reform | she/her