Life in Ireland is “grand”

The alarm goes off at 5:30am, signaling the start to my day. As a Muslim, I pray 5 obligatory prayers and our earliest begins at dawn. This means I’m always awake by 5:30am everyday! I also try to spend parts of my day reading Quran and watching Islamic lectures. Beyond religion, I try to keep up with the literature around neuroimmunology and general world events. Some of these events are political and others are more entrepreneurial focused. My favorite reading material is from TechCrunch and Forbes. This morning I was reading about Martin Shrekli a controversial biotech entrepreneur who made headlines for increasing his drug price by 5000%.

While ostensibly my life seems to have a set structure due to my religion and academic timetable, in reality my days are always filled with unique opportunities and events that keep me on my toes. Below is a glimpse of what I’ve been up to in Ireland.

As a Master’s student in Immunology & Global Health, I have a set timetable with lectures, lab practical’s, and seminars for the first half and then a research thesis project for the next half. I selected this master’s program because of its award-winning reputation, research areas, new focus on neuroimmunology and drug development, as well as the mix of hard science and global health courses and unique research thesis program. Today was special because we had a seminar where talented researchers from various parts of Europe talk about their work and allow our class to ask them questions. Today’s seminar was of particular interest to me because of the focus on metabolism. I introduced the speaker and led the question and answer segment. The speaker was working at the front-lines of her field and her work validated the importance of finding novel solutions for obesity. In fact the next day was a big deal for Symmetry Therapeutics, a biotech company I co-founded with Drs. Jon Brestoff Parker and Thomas H. Reynolds, the purpose of which is translating novel therapeutics into the metabolic disease market. I spend most my time outside of class working alongside our team to make our dream a reality. Our current success is a testament to how well our team works and the unique structure and vision we hold for our company.

Outside of class, I’m involved in societies and engaged in events around the college. For example, I had the honor of attending the official opening of a new building on campus through a special invitation from President Phillip Nolan.  The building is dedicated to a future towards applied research, translational work, and in general to encourage entrepreneurship. This strikes an important cord with me. I know first-hand the steps it takes to translate basic research into commercialization. At Purdue, I invented four lab-based technologies and have been active in numerous start-ups as a founder, team member, or advisor that span a multitude of fields and technologies. I plan to be engaged with the new center as a mentor for young entrepreneurs.

Beyond Maynooth, I visit Dublin which is conveniently located a short train or bus ride away. I spend my time sight-seeing, meeting with other entrepreneurs, and attending meetings, conferences, or events. My most recent trip to Dublin, I had the chance to visit the CoderDojo headquarters. CoderDojo is a wonderful non-profit targeted towards getting kids 7-17 into coding and STEM. My two younger sisters founded and run CoderDojoAnvil in West Lafayette. They have one of the largest dojos and are using their momentum to plan larger community based events. It was clear after speaking with the leadership at CoderDojo that social entrepreneurship and disruptive educational change were what built the backbone to their rapidly growing success. I’m excited to continue to stay engaged with them and plan to volunteer at a few dojos in Ireland as well as attend events hosted by them.

The Irish times recently wrote up a profile on me. Please visit here to read the full story:

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