Breaking Boundaries: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Immunology
In an extraordinary feat of academic and research brilliance, Nida Javaid, a dedicated biologist, triumphed in her Ph.D. thesis defense by discussing her research on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) on clinically relevant pathogens. 2 weeks after her defense, she was awarded the coveted title of being a Ph.D. doctor. By inculcating the disciplines of Math and Biology, Dr. Nida employed various statistical analyses along with well-thought-out genomic epidemiological approaches to classify and characterize the patterns of Antimicrobial Resistance in Pakistan.
In her thesis presentation, Dr. Nida highlighted the dangers of antimicrobial-resistant pathogens. Due to factors such as lack of surveillance systems, inadequate infection control practices in hospitals, overburdened healthcare systems, and most importantly, the lack of awareness, AMR has become a major public threat in Pakistan. Dr. Nida’s statistical models primarily focus on the patterns of AMR in Pakistan, explicitly examining clinically resistant strains of Streptococcus pneumoniae (S. pneumoniae). S. Pneumoniae is the bacteria behind pneumococcal infections, a lower respiratory tract disease affecting millions worldwide. When bacteria become resistant to the antimicrobials provided as an infection cure, antimicrobial resistance develops, and this causes the birth of ‘Superbugs’.
During her research, Dr.Nida realized the intensity of this prevalent problem and noticed that the burden of pneumonia infections is unevenly distributed. A staggering 50% of bacterial infections and associated fatalities are concentrated in just four countries, with Pakistan being among them. In 2012, a therapeutic revolution was introduced with the discovery of PCV-10, a vaccine targeting 10 serotypes of S.Pneumonia. However, until now, no study has examined the impact of this vaccine on these resistant pathogens. This is when Dr. Nida knew that she had to play her part in understanding and researching these disease patterns. Through her work, she brought the country closer to developing stronger therapeutics and surveillance systems.
What truly sets Dr. Nida’s approach apart is her multi-faceted, interdisciplinary approach. In her prior academic works as the first or second author, Dr. Nida delved into analogous mathematical models of AMR patterns in clinically relevant bacteria. For instance, in her published article titled "Trends in antimicrobial resistance amongst pathogens isolated from blood and cerebrospinal fluid cultures in Pakistan (2011-2015): A retrospective cross-sectional study," she extensively examined antimicrobial resistance patterns, specifically in E. coli strains.
Her passion for Mathematics and Biology drove her to take a varied approach to tackle the problem. Her research was conducted under the guidance of multiple esteemed professors, including Dr. Shaper Mirza, Dr. Sultan Sial, Dr. Safee Chaudhary, and Dr. Adnan Khan, representing both the Math and Life Sciences departments at SSE. Additionally, she received supervision from Dr. Imran Nisar from Aga Khan University in Karachi. Dr. Nida's Ph.D. research also sets up a propeller for further research in therapeutics as she looks at other structural proteins of S.Pneumoniae as a vaccine target.