CHENNAI: Born and bred in Sendamangalam town in Namakkal district, Ramamoorthi Jayaraj was a typical student. But 13 years after passing out of Madras Veterinary College in Vepery, Jayaraj, now a researcher with the Charles Darwin University, Australia, has bagged one of the most prestigious awards —The Pride of Australia medal.
The list of his contributions in the nomination files is extensive with cancer research and social work to educate the indigenous population of Australia’s Northern Territory. Jayaraj was one of 11 recipients of the medal this year, under the Inspiration category.
Jayaraj, while being recognised for his contributions to uplift the living conditions of the indigenous population, is primarily a biotechnologist. And it is in this field that he has made his most significant contributions.
Speaking to City Express from his desk in Charles Darwin University, the senior lecturer of clinical sciences spoke of his early experiences in India — both while schooling and in college.
“I was a typical student, but I was always good in academics. My father was a primary school teacher in the same town and after I finished my schooling in 1994, I began my undergraduate studies at Madras Veterinary College,” said Jayaraj.
Jayaraj’s journey toward the award began the minute he stepped into the MVC. He began filing research papers which got published even while he was an undergraduate. In fact, it was one of those research papers filed after his postgraduate stint at the same college which was picked up by a fellow researcher in Australia.
“He invited me to work at the CDU and I went. That was 13 years ago,” said Jayaraj. Once he began working at the Australian university, Jayaraj plunged fully into several clinical trials that were going on there. Most notably, in cancer research. Among the many in which his contributions have been recognised were those studying the effect of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in cancer patients and their family members. Other trials explored how best to map cancerous and non-cancerous areas using molecular markers, the effects of radiotherapy on cancer treatment etc.
“But during that time, I also began taking an interest in the indigenous population of the state. They have several similarities with Indians, in both culture and physiology. But they have been an oppressed people and their condition is not as good as it can be even now. I began working with them on the side,” he admitted.
He hopes the award will help promote the importance of health research and education in the Australian state.
Jayaraj currently works as a cancer researcher and educator for Australian Aboriginal and Tories Strait Islanders (an indigenous section of Australia’s population) in remote communities of Australia.