Ashlesh Murthy and Bernard Arunlanandam
Ashlesh Murthy (left) with Associate Professor Bernard Arulanandam

Commencement Close-up: Ashlesh Murthy

By Kris Rodriguez
Public Affairs Specialist

(May 9, 2006)--Thirty-year-old Ashlesh Murthy has the distinction of being the first doctoral degree candidate from UTSA's cell and molecular biology program, established in 2003. He will walk the commencement stage this weekend.

The native of Bangalore, India, has a productive research record, authoring or co-authoring 10 articles that were published or are under review. Additionally, the results of his research on a vaccine against chlamydia are part of a patent the university will submit soon.

Murthy received his undergraduate degree from a medical school in India and planned to become a physician. However, after a brief stint in a molecular and genetics laboratory, he decided on a new focus for his research.

In 2001, Murthy came to UTSA to pursue a master's degree and a year later enrolled in the new doctoral program after meeting Bernard Arulanandam, College of Sciences immunologist and associate professor of biology, who also had just come to UTSA.

"I liked the translational research he was doing by taking basic research information and trying to apply it to the human population," said Murthy. "In terms of infectious diseases, I think that makes more sense to me with my medical background."

As the first UTSA doctoral student under Arulanandam, Murthy's experience managing a lab and research project has helped him assist graduate students learn new concepts and training techniques.

"Ashlesh has blazed a trail for the cell and molecular biology doctoral program," said Arulanandam. "He has graduated in under four years and received prestigious awards including the UTSA Presidential Dissertation Fellowship and one last year from the Society of Mucosal Immunology."

Murthy's educational career path has taken him thousands of miles away from home in India. But, he keeps in touch with them with phone calls twice each week and regular e-mails. Eventually, Murthy hopes to return to India to work as a physician and researcher.

"I think we have a really strong doctoral program going," said Murthy. "So whenever I am asked, I always tell others to consider our program at UTSA."

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