SINGAPORE - Two things have happened since scientist Dr Margam Chandrasekaran's research was mentioned by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his National Day Rally (NDR) speech.
Dr Chandrasekaran's mailbox has suddenly been inundated with job applications, with applicants expressing their keenness to work with him and his team at Bio Scaffold International (BSI).
And two, he has been made to feel like a bit of a star - with interview requests and his photographs appearing in newspapers. Unusual for a researcher and scientist like Dr Chandrasekaran, 48, who has spent most of his adult life either in a laboratory or nose-deep in books. His work in bio scaffolds and its production using 3-D printing received generous mention from the PM in the NDR speech, who even showed pictures of it in a slide show.
Dr Chandrasekaran was expecting a passing mention but he didn't know it would be so prominent. "Two weeks before the speech, we were contacted to provide information about our work. We were told the PM will shortlist from a selection of works chosen.
So I had an idea that it would be mentioned. But I was pleasantly surprised when he gave it the time he did," Dr Chandrasekaran said.
The PM in his speech spoke of the "3-D printer which can print bone tissue scaffolds" which help in bone growth after a tooth extraction.
The bone tissue scaffold called the Alvelac, invented by Dr Chandrasekaran and his team, is a tiny cylindrical scaffold that can be placed into the gum after a tooth extraction. It not only helps in the growth of the bone but also helps the gums to retain their shape and prevent collapsing. The scaffold is made from a bio polymer which disintegrates within two to six months. It's been certified as bio compatible and safe and dentists can do the procedure for as much as $150 to $250. The scaffold plays a similar role to scaffolds put up during construction of buildings.
Dr Chandrasekaran, who came from Chennai to National Technological University to do his PhD in 1995, has been working full-time with BSI since 2007. But his research with bio scaffolds started in early 2001 when he was working with the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology. He worked with a group of seven to eight researchers, but the main work was done by him (he is the lead inventor in the patent).