Dr Anika Prabhu, 2022–23

Dr Anika Prabhu

Dr Anika Prabhu

Anika received her PhD studying disorders of cholesterol metabolism at UNSW. As a postdoctoral fellow, she joined the National Institutes of Health in Washington D.C., and the RIKEN research institute in Japan, to study rare neurological diseases at the cellular level. Now she has returned to Australia to join the Attorney-General’s Department as a Science Policy Fellow.

What were you researching before you started as a Science Policy Fellow?

I investigated the molecular, cellular and developmental processes that underlie rare neurodegenerative diseases. This includes studying how genetic mutations cause an excess or deficiency of cholesterol levels in brain cells leading to their dysfunction. I discovered the mechanism behind the degradation of a cholesterol synthesis enzyme that is essential to brain development. I also developed a neuronal model of Niemann Pick type C1 (NPC1) disease, which allows the study of NPC1 in a highly scalable and reproducible manner. 

How has your research background helped you contribute to policy development?

My research background has been highly beneficial in contributing to policy development. It has helped me engage with complex data sets, synthesise ideas for reports and public documents, and developing options to address policy issues. Research has a number of highly transferable skills including problem-solving, critical thinking and clear communication, which are essential to evidence-based policy making. 

How has the program changed your career aspirations?

The program has helped me understand and better appreciate the widespread impact that can be made through our work in the Australian Public Service. After 6 months in the program, I find there are many, varied opportunities in the public service, from which I can learn and also contribute to. 

What is your favourite part about working in a policy role in the Australian Public Service?

I enjoy that each day is different and brings with it a range of complex and interesting tasks to progress our projects. Through this process I have learned a lot about an entirely new subject matter, and have worked with a highly ambitious and supportive team.