19 July 2018

Meeting Lata!!

Lata and I go back to the mid 1980s when I was studying engineering in Chennai. We became very close friends then. I think she left for the USA to do higher studies around the same time when I started working in India. Later, when I came to the USA, I had kept up with her. I remember some of my office friends in USA and she had once driven from New York to DC area. I had also visited her in her college (Columbia) in New York later when she was doing her PhD. And I certainly recollect she meeting me and Sharmila in New York once. Finally, about four years back I had met her in Atlanta (I think she had come to CDC).

Her area of work has always fascinated me. It used to be that she was into oncology. She has worked in two of the biggest pharmaceutical companies. But now she is in a much smaller company. And she is working on another very interesting area (for me at least) – bacteria!!!

If you think I talk, you should meet Lata! She is nothing if not a bundle of energy. Over dinner in Boston last week, I got a great primer on bacteria. I learnt a lot about so many different bacteria we have in our stomach and our gut and how it is difficult to put bacteria from outside into our gut thru the digestive system. Apparently, the bacteria that thrive in our gut and are crucial for our existence cannot survive in any acidic environment – which our stomach is.

One of my curiosity questions was about probiotics that we hear so much these days and see TV ads of. In general I am very skeptical of anything on the food front that come up suddenly as new fads. But she did put my curiosity to rest. I understand while having probiotics cannot harm you – indeed, they increase the good bacteria – the matter of fact is those bacteria is very easy to produce by our body and it does so constantly. The ones that are far more important and is singularly important for our system to survive (in the guts, for example), no amount of eating probiotic food is going to help.

Well, that was end of Chapter 1 when we finished dinner.

Hope I do not have to wait for another four years for the second chapter!! Cannot wait to learn more new things about bacteria…

Posted July 19, 2018 by Rajib Roy in category "Intersection Points

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