Fast Five with Dr David Chieng

Dr Alin Rai

Dr Alin Rai is a new co-chair of our Early Career Scientist (ECS) Committee. Originally from Nepal, Alin was awarded his PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from La Trobe University in 2016. He joined the Baker Institute in 2019 and is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Molecular Proteomics laboratory.

  1. What inspired you to pursue a career in science?

    Coming from a small but beautiful country, Nepal, there were unspoken expectations for pre-destined carrier paths, amidst which being a scientist was just unheard of. However, at an early age, I was always inquisitive about the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of things around me, often annoying adults around me with questions pertaining to the nature of our existence. When I was 13, my beloved grandmother died of cancer, and I was left sad with a lot of questions as to why. What I recollect next is my desire to pursue the path of discovery and hence, science. It had to be either science or show biz.

  2. What does your research involve?

    I work on extracellular vesicles (EVs) which are lipid-membrane particles (carrying proteins and RNA/DNAs) that cells release. Because they mediate signalling between cells in disease settings, their detection and subsequent study in circulation has immense diagnostic and therapeutic potential. Recently, I successfully developed a robust protocol to purify these EVs from blood and use omics-based technologies to dissect their protein and lipid composition. I am currently using this workflow to discover the role of EVs, and their potential as a minimally invasive biomarker in cardiovascular disease, among others.

  3. What are your hopes for the ECS committee this year?

    We have a fantastic team. I hope there will be lots of engagement, meaningful collaborations, opportunities for initiatives like an ECS-led symposium and even more social events!!!

  4. What are some of your favourite things to do outside of work?

    I love hanging out with family and friends (especially over a home-cooked meal), I enjoy visiting new places and some old regular ones (PoofDoof, for instance) where I love good music to break a move to. On the other hand, I also love spending time by myself; then I like to just get lost in my painting or swim, or simply drift away in my own thoughts which is ironically when I am the most present in my being.

  5. Which three people would you love to invite for dinner?

    Hmmm…. I really had to think hard for this one! First would be an insult comic — Joan Rivers, whose humorous take on this fleeting life and its adversities is so infectious and for me, a revelation. Second would be Sadguru, a spiritual leader and a mystic whose wisdom guides me on my path to self-discovery and helped me navigate and manage my emotions. Science has yet to find many answers, but there are aspects of discovery that can only be made upon introspection. Third would be Bianca Del Rio (winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race); again, an insult comic and I feel Joan, she and I would have a good kiki with Sadguru about life.

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