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Kindred Spotlight: Bornali Bhattacharjee, LISTEN Study Coordinator

Kindred Spotlight: Bornali Bhattacharjee, LISTEN Study Coordinator

Tell us a bit about your background. How did you get started in health research?    

My training is in pathogen genomics and epidemiology. I received my PhD degree in 2008. I’ve worked on health research for the last 14 years and enjoy teaching science.  

My interest in health research grew as a PhD student while working on my thesis on human papillomavirus (HPV) infections in Indian women.  

What drives you to do the work you do?  

As a researcher, I often traveled across rural and urban areas in India.  The disparity I observed in the distribution of healthcare facilities motivates me daily to contribute and strive to be better as a researcher.   

Is there something memorable about your career you wish to share? 

I had just started my career as an independent researcher and was defending my project on viral infections in neonates to a committee. After defining the goals and the planned cool experiments, a veteran scientist and a committee member asked me, “Have you visited the local hospital and spoken to the parents of the study participants as yet?”   

He was right, and it was a lesson for me. I spent the next five years talking not just to the clinicians but also hearing from the parents to better understand the onset of disease.   

How has your experience in research impacted your views regarding the pandemic?  

I coordinate several COVID-19-related projects here at Yale.  

Speaking to the participants or reading their stories has made me realize how debilitating SARS-CoV-2 infections can be, and so much more needs to be done.   

What drew you to LISTEN as a study investigator?  

When the pandemic started, I was in India and contributing to the work done by the National Surveillance Team on SARS-CoV-2.  I often read about Professor Iwasaki’s work on host-pathogen interactions and wrote to her asking if I could be a part of the team. 

What most excites you about the work you’re doing with Kindred and the LISTEN study?  

LISTEN stands for Listen to Immune, Symptom, and Treatment Experiences Now.   

The concept of participants, clinicians, and researchers working as a team to understand a complex condition as post-acute sequelae SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC) is fascinating.    

Tell us about your vision for LISTEN.  

I’m an optimist. Our purpose is to characterize the variation and correlates of PASC and find biological correlates to identify clues we should follow to produce new diagnostic tests and treatments.   

This we aim to achieve through science pursued in partnership between patients, researchers, and clinicians. I believe we’ll achieve it together. 

Last question: Just wondering, did you have any childhood heroes?  

My father.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?  

I’m very thankful to be a part of the LISTEN team, and I hope to work cohesively to achieve our goals. 

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