Praveen Surendran

Favourite Thing: Use computational methods to search for needle in a haystack. Here needle is the biological cause of a disease and haystack is the genetic data from 1000s of individuals.



De-paul Higher Secondary School, Kerala, India (1999), Bangalore University (2001-2007), Indian Institute of Science (2008), University College Dublin (School of Medicine 2008-2009: 2008-2012)


Bachelor of Science (BSc), Master of Science (MSc-Biotechnology), Post Graduate Diploma in Bioinformatics (PGDB), Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Work History:

Cardiovascular Epidemiology Unit, Department of Public Health

Current Job:

Genetic Statistician, Postdoctoral Fellow


University of Cambridge

Me and my work

Analyses of data (genetic and clinical measures) from samples across the globe to see if changes in DNA can influence risk for heart diseases and it’s risk factors

I finished my PhD and joined University of Cambridge to continue my research in the area of cardiovascular biology. Currently I am a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Public Health and Primary Care. The main focus of my research is to understand genetic factors that are associated with cardiovascular diseases and risk factors that increase risk of heart disease, like blood pressure, cholesterol etc. I use statistical methods to test whether a change in the DNA is associated with disease or its risk factors. Most of my initial work focused on the quality control (QC) of the data that we currently use for analyses and also develop/optimise computational programs/tools to perform this QC. Currently we analyse this cleaned dataset to find the changes in DNA that either increase or reduce the risk of a particular disease or change levels of a risk factor. These studies will help us understand the biology of these changes and in the future help us develop new drugs to reduce/prevent disease risk.

My Typical Day

Start by casual talk or by wishing colleagues a good morning, respond to e-mails with a coffee by the side, check all completed work to present at meetings, write outstanding action points and list those I plan to finish the same day, make sure that I finish these tasks even if I stay late, take couple of minutes break every 20-30 minutes, talk about something totally unrelated to science and make sure that I distract those who are waiting to be distracted in my office and get into not more than one conversation a day that lasts for at least 10 minutes and lastly call my wife at least twice to see how she and my son are doing.

What I'd do with the money

I will use the prize money to create an interactive platform on a web service hosted by Cambridge where students can discuss their research ideas with a selected group of scientists within Cambridge and other research institutions. The primary focus will be to discuss cardiovascular research but will later extend this to other related domains.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Ambitious, hardworking and resourceful

Who is your favourite singer or band?

What's your favourite food?

Slow cooked tapioca with salmon baked with lemon thyme and cayenne pepper on the side

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Skiing on a red slope in Stumm after my first lesson and competing with 4 year old kids on the second day

What did you want to be after you left school?


Were you ever in trouble at school?


What was your favourite subject at school?


What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

Teaching and discussing science with young wannabe scientists and help them make a decision alongside my research that identified novel genetic markers associated with cardiovascular diseases and its risk factors.

What or who inspired you to become a scientist?

My father who used to explain me the cause/biology of diseases and my curiosity to understand the gaps in his explanation that I couldn’t find in books.

If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?


If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

1. Get a patent that has the potential to get money from pharmaceutical companies 2. Use this money to fund the treatment of patients who are denied of treatment due to lack of funds 3. Use this money to provide scholarship to students who would like to go to medical schools but have not money to pay their fees and keep a bond that ensure 60% of their salary to be fed back into the the same scholarship to keep the ball rolling

Tell us a joke.

Human beings are perfect

Other stuff

Work photos: