Winning research poster at our Open Evening unveiled – as voted for by you!

Is DNA your destiny?

Not necessarily, according to Cambridge postdoctoral researcher Dr Kousik Kundu – whose poster was voted the public’s favourite at the NIHR Cambridge BRC Open Evening which took place last November.

The poster was one of 13 on display highlighting individual research projects which the NIHR Cambridge BRC and local colleagues have supported and funded, and which were chosen for their readability and accessibility to a lay audience. It was then up to members of the public to select their favourite!

Dr Kundu’s winning poster, which was a collaboration with Professor Nicole Soranzo and fellow researchers at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, summed up his team’s research in the genetic factors underlying individuals’ disposition to life-changing diseases.

Dr Kundu said: “While we share 99.9% of our genomes with other people, it is that 0.1% that can affect our susceptibility to any disease and our response to medicines.

“By understanding these genomic differences we can work out the best possible way to treat a patient for a range of diseases – from diabetes and heart disease to cancer.

“But our research showed that environmental factors, such as our lifestyle and diets, also play an important role on how we respond to a drug – and that it could be possible to develop better therapeutic approaches to personalised healthcare.”

In designing the poster Dr Kundu said: “I learnt a lot about how to make a very complex scientific work simple and attractive, while providing a very important message which can be easily understood by a lay audience.

“I think because of its simplicity, many people found my poster interesting and stopped to ask many questions.”

Communications and PPI Strategy Lead Amanda Stranks said: “The standard of entries for our Open Evening was incredibly high, but Kousik’s colourful use of graphics and non-technical language ensured that his poster neatly got across why the research was necessary and its impact.”

Dr Kundu’s current research focuses on the genetic factors of several immune-mediated diseases, such as Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. He is also working to generate whole genome sequence data from UK Biobank samples and to analyse data from the NIHR-funded INTERVAL study, which showed that blood donors could safely give blood more frequently than is allowed at present without having a major impact on their health.

He said: “We are possibly not far away from when doctors will prescribe the right combination of medicines at the right time that is most suitable for an individual.”

Dr Kundu's winning poster as voted by patients at last year's BRC Open Evening
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