When T.M. Ebaston completed his master’s degree in Chemistry at the National Institute of Technology in Trichy, India, he did not know that his search for a doctorate program in luminescent molecules for biomedical applications would lead him to the laboratories of Profs. Gary Gellerman and Leonid Patsenker at Ariel University in Israel. A year and a half into his doctorate, Ebaston is conducting advanced research in developing targeted drug delivery systems including monitoring of drug release, with the aim of increasing drug efficacy and reducing side effects to cancer patients. Now, with preliminary results, the team is moving forward toward biological testing.
Growing up in the State of Kerala in Southern India, Ebaston’s mother wanted him to become a physician and his father encouraged him to study engineering, but neither appealed to him. Instead, he followed his passion and went into scientific research.
When Ebaston, 26, began searching for a place to do his PhD, he contacted other Indian students already studying in Ariel. They assured him that unlike the impression people may have, Ariel is a calm place and very conducive to research.
Ebaston is pleased with his decision to do his research at Prof. Patsenker and Prof. Gellerman’s laboratory at Ariel University, which receives partial funding from the Israel Science Foundation. He began his doctorate in the fall of 2017, and expects to complete his PhD by early 2021. His future plans are to continue on to a post-doctorate program in related interdisciplinary cancer research in chemistry.
“The climate in Ariel is pleasant, and I’ve made some wonderful friendships with people from all over the world. The downside is the weekends – it’s a ‘sleepy city’, but that gives me chance to occasionally take advantage of the quiet weekends to catch up on lab work.”
An Israeli family from Ariel, whose family originally came from India, “adopted” him, and often invites him to celebrate “Shabbes” and holidays with them. “It’s nice to be a part of a Jewish family and learn about all the traditions.” Ebaston was recently invited to celebrate the grandfather’s 86th birthday in Ashkelon. His friend, who is involved in the development of the new high-speed railroad line between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, invited Ebaston for a test ride. “I got to ride on the new train even before Bibi Netanyahu!”
He takes advantage of the local sports center, and occasionally plays cricket, although there is no proper cricket field in Ariel. “Sometimes we play on the basketball court.”
Ebaston lives in a single furnished room in one of the brand-new dormitory buildings on campus. He has had no problem in adjusting to Israeli food. He often joins other Indian students for “home-cooked” meals. Virtually all the Indian ingredients and spices are available in Israel.
“I would definitely recommend Ariel University to anyone considering studying here. It’s a calm and safe place”. Although the labs are currently a bit overcrowded, that will be resolved as soon as we move into the spacious state-of-the-art new Natural Sciences Building, due for completion in the near future.
He has learned some Hebrew, but gets along very well in English. “Hakol beseder”, he says – all is well.