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In 2020, Aaran received a First Class BSc Honours degree in Medical Physiology and Therapeutics from the School of Medicine, University of Nottingham. For his final year thesis, he evaluated the combined effect of non-invasive brain stimulation and robotic training for the neurorehabilitation of stroke patients.
Aaran then read a Masters of Research Degree in Translational Cancer Medicine at King’s College London where he graduated with a Distinction. During his Masters degree, Aaran undertook two six month laboratory rotations in Molecular Oncology and Cancer Nano-pharmacology. For his first project, Aaran investigated the HGF/MET signalling pathway in relation to radio-resistance in Head and Neck squamous cell carcinomas with Professor Mahvash Tavassoli in the Department of Host Microbiome and Interactions. Aaran then moved to the Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences in the laboratory of Dr Maya Thanou, where he focused on developing an in vitro blood-brain-barrier co-culture system for assessing the effects of phase-shift sonoresponsive nanodroplets for the treatment of glioblastoma.
Aaran started his PhD at the MRC Toxicology Unit in April 2022. Aaran is applying advanced imaging techniques to investigate the nanoscale architecture and cellular physiology of airway cells with Dr Vito Mennella.

Research Interests:

The rise of global health threats, such as COVID-19 as well as the increase in air pollution, has dramatically emphasized the role that the airways play in protecting our health. Therefore, it is important we investigate the mechanisms of airway toxicity to develop better biomarker and therapeutic strategies.
Having trained as a physiologist prior to my postgraduate studies, I developed an understanding of how organs collectively function in our body in response to internal or external stimuli. The question I always asked was ‘how do cells contribute to organ functionality; hence our physiology?’
Within our tissue, various cell types interact together to form communities that function in a larger system. Cellular physiology is the study of the structure and function of cells within their native tissue environment. By using advanced imaging techniques such as super-resolution microscopy and volumetric EM, with genetic tools such as CRISPR to modulate physiological status, we can study the relationship between structure and function. This not only will allow us to gain a better insight into the role of our cells in physiology – but importantly pathology. We can then utilize mechanistic information for the production of diagnostic toolboxes for the analysis of toxicity and adverse outcome pathways of novel compounds or toxicants introduced into the environment.



Key publications: 

Zhang W, Shi Y, Abd Shukor S, Vijayakumaran A, Vlatakis S, Wright M and Thanou M. Phase-shift nanodroplets as an emerging sonoresponsive nanomaterial for imaging and drug delivery applicationsNanoscale, 14(8), pp.2943-2965. (2022).

Vijayakumaran A and Tavassoli M. HGF/MET signalling and DNA damage response: Strategies to conquer radiotherapy resistance in head and neck cancerJournal of Cellular Signaling, 2(2). (2021).

PhD Student

Contact Details

MRC Toxicology Unit
Gleeson Building
Tennis Court Road