Combatting shellfish allergies - Dr Sandip Kamath

AIFA Grant recipient Dr Sandip Kamath is based at James Cook University in Townsville.

Watch Sandip’s presentation at the 2015 International Finals on FameLab YouTube channel.

Sandip's work involves predicting shellfish allergy in children who are already allergic to the house dust mite. There are similarities between the bits of the house dust mite that cause allergies and those in shellfish, which means that there is cross reactivity. This is when the immune system reacts to house dust mite and may rebel against shellfish as well. This can evolve into severe allergic reactions.

Sandip and his team aim to develop a way of detecting the immunological cross-reactivity using antibodies called IgE, with the hope that this may help to prevent accidental exposure and unexpected allergic reactions to seafood among house dust mite sensitised children and young people.

Earlier this year Sandip entered the world’s biggest international science communication competition, FameLab.

Organised by the British Council and Cheltenham Festivals, FameLab aims to discover charismatic, up-and-coming scientists who inspire people to see the world from a new perspective through three-minute presentations on their research.

Sandip, who won the Australian competition in May 2015 with his witty presentation about treating food allergies, flew to the UK in early June to battle it out against 26 of the best science communicators from around the globe at the Cheltenham Science Festival. 

Captivating the audience and judges with a presentation that involved plastic lobsters, balloons and a police hat as props, he proved again that being a geek doesn’t stop you holding a crowd! Sandip did enormously well in Cheltenham, making it through to the grand final alongside scientists from Cyprus, Switzerland, France, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, CERN and Croatia.

It showed again how arts skills mesh with science knowledge to create interest in new discovery and research.

“Participating in the FameLab International finals was an exhilarating experience, competing against science communicators from 26 countries, and being selected in the top 8. It was a great feeling to be representing an entire nation at the grand final,” said Dr Sandip Kamath.

“As a biomedical researcher, it is my commitment to create awareness about various immune diseases (food allergy in this case) among the general public, and FameLab was a fantastic platform to do that at a national and international level.”