Alumni stories

Alumni story

Badri Thapa

Ph.D. (Microbiology) Class of 2009 Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University

Dr. Badri Thapa is currently working as a scientist at WHO Country Office in Myanmar.

Badri Thapa
Badri Thapa
Badri Thapa
Badri Thapa
Badri Thapa
Badri Thapa : Since my early medical student life, I have always been fascinated with infectious disease research. After I graduated as a medical student, I worked as a clinician for six years. There I learned a fair deal about infectious disease management. However, I wanted to learn more about etiological agents through academic and research to holistically understand infectious diseases. This became possible when Mahidol University offered me the full scholarship for the PhD in medical microbiology. The University retains a rich academic history and ranks among the top Universities in Asia. It therefore was a proud moment and prestigious moment for me to be able to start my PhD at Mahidol and practicum at Siriraj Hospital. So to summarize, it was the continued academic excellence of the University and the scholarship offered that helped me take up the PhD program. Also, the Kingdom of Thailand– a land of smile is a 'home away from my home-Nepal'.
Badri Thapa : I took up a lecturer position in the Department of Microbiology in Kathmandu Medical College, Kathmandu University in Nepal. My responsibilities included teaching microbiology to medical, nursing, dental students and foreign students (under universities exchange programmes), particularly from the European countries. I was also engaged in reporting the microbiological tests, leading hospital infection prevention and control team and conducting research. I am proud to share, that in a short period of time, I was also able to motivate students and faculties into molecular research, publish scientific papers in biomedical journals and establish stringent laboratory procedures and processes for the same.
Badri Thapa : While working as a lecturer between 2009-2010, I took up some assignments from UNICEF, WHO, and UNDP. Through these assignments, I supported the Ministry of Health and Population with 'on-site mentoring and monitoring of the HIV testing laboratories' in 21 districts of Nepal; developed the 'National Quality Assurance Scheme for HIV testing'; and conducted 'research on neonatal sepsis' and study on 'prevalence of anemia among adolescent school going girls'. The study on anemia showed the prevalence of anemia was as high as 40% and iron deficiency anemia was among 50% of those diagnosed as anemics. A simple strategy of iron supplementation could avert anemia situation at the population level which has huge impact on the growth and development of adolescent including improving their future maternal life and their unborn babies. This acted as a catalyst and ignited a chain reaction to get me involved in public health. Another motivator is my wife. She is a public health graduate from Mahidol and we always had informative discussions on public health issues. This too evoked my interest in Public Health. In 2011, my career in public health started as Project Coordinator to manage the Global Fund Grants for Malaria within the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division, Ministry of Health and Population, Nepal. During my work there, I further realized that there is a lot to be done in improving public health. I possess the technical knowledge required but realized that I also needed to build my skills in program management and administration. There is a dearth of professional who possess technical knowledge along with management and administration skills. It is for this reason I have been constantly enhancing my skills to contribute aptly as a leader in public health. To date I have completed my Masters in Business Administration with specialization in health project management. My professional career continues to shine as a result of my academic degrees; implementation experience; and passion of academia and research in infectious diseases--namely, Malaria, TB, HIV, Neglected Tropical Disease, antimicrobial resistance and Climate sensitive diseases.
Badri Thapa : As I mentioned earlier, Mahidol University is a prestigious University and ranks among the top Universities in Asia. The University's curriculum is very comprehensive and covered all streams to strengthen my base in medical microbiology and infectious disease research. Some of the departments of the Mahidol University is also WHO Collaborating Centers. So, this automatically got be onboard with the work of WHO and was really interested in working for this reputed organization someday. What also helped to build my knowledge was learning from inter-departments and faculties within Mahidol and other Universities in Bangkok- that is possible in Mahidol. The state of the art laboratories and classrooms was readily available for learning as par to the Western Countries. I have been informed that the University has grown much more than what was between 2006-2009. Most importantly, the learnings from qualified professors-with Western education, lecturers, tutors and support colleagues was extremely beneficial. If I must name a single person in Mahidol University who has imparted me with a 360° of knowledge on academic, research and soft skills, that would be Associate Professor Dr Chanwit Tribuddharat who is also my PhD supervisor. I have seen that learning doesn't end with graduation from Mahidol University. I still get constant guidance from him. I am truly fortunate to have him as my supervisor, mentor, and now a good colleague sharing the same birthday.
Badri Thapa : I felt proud to receive the award in the presence of my Professors, Public Health Experts and my family. I am truly grateful to the Mahidol University and more so to my supervisor, Associate Professor, Dr Chanwit. Therefore, Mahidol University is so special and close to my heart-as I said earlier, your connection to the University doesn't end with graduation ceremony. Mahidol University ensures to reach out to their alumni and make them part and parcel of special occasions. I think the reasons why they awarded me was to acknowledge my contribution in public health and further boost my motivation. Some of the particular achievements I would like to mention are as follows;
  • Global, regional and country public health goods :
    Since I graduated from Mahidol University in 2009. I have served my country Nepal and other South Asian (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Indian, Maldives, Pakistan, Sri Lanka) and WHO South East Asia Region and some countries in WHO Western Pacific Region countries at various capacities. I have led to the development of country and regional policies, strategies and plans, guidelines, standard operating procedures, training manuals and materials, and reports numerous areas- tuberculosis, HIV, malaria, antimicrobial resistance, immunization, maternal, neonatal and child health, environment and occupation health and water, sanitation and hygiene.
  • Supported Countries for National programme reviews :
    While working in different capacities, I have been part of Joint Monitoring Mission to review TB laboratory component of National Tuberculosis Programme in Bhutan and Sri Lanka in 2014; Malaria Programme Review for Myanmar, 2016; and Malaria Situation Analysis in the townships in Myanmar bordering India and Bangladesh, 2016. The reports were used to inform the development of policies and national disease specific strategic plans in respective countries. Moreover, the reports were used as an advocacy tool for the internal and external resource mobilization.
  • Capacity building of the public health staff in different countries in disease treatment, prevention and control :
    Since my graduation from Mahidol University, I have been thoroughly involved in building capacities of health staff and partners of South Asia and South-East Asia Countries. Key capacity building activities conducted were: on-site mentoring of 21 district hospital HIV laboratories and on the job training for 100 HIV lab technicians in Nepal; laboratory trainings on culture and tuberculosis drug susceptibility testing for more than 100 microbiologists from the SAARC countries; trained more than 50 clinicians in the clinical and operational management of MDR-TB in Bhutan, India, and Nepal; training in WHO and country specific strategies, intervention, and tools for communicable and non-communicable diseases (TB, HIV, Malaria, Neglected Tropical Diseases, Environmental and Occupational health and water, sanitation and hygiene), research methodology, data analysis, and programme management; and trained over 400 Community Volunteers in India on community Case management for Tuberculosis, identification of presumptive TB patients and linking with laboratory.
  • Academic and Research :
    I served as a faculty in Kathmandu Medical College to primarily teach medical, nursing pharmacy and dental student on medical microbiology. I also served as a visiting faculty to Asian College for Advance Studies and Golden Gate College to take session on Clinical epidemiology and microbiology. Research is integral part of my work life and have published over 25 research papers which are published in biomedical journals and newspaper articles and opinion published in national dailies. Some bacterial gene sequences have been deposited in NCBI GenBank.
  • Administration and management :
    Apart of my technical job, I have been thoroughly involved in managing and administering the laboratory team, public health team in several organizations. I managed a team of 5 people while working in microbiology laboratory in Kathmandu Medical College. While working for the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division of Ministry of Health as a Malaria Project Lead, I have managed a team of over 15 people. I led the community Tuberculosis Control Project in India where I managed and administered 15 people directly under my supervision and almost 50 INGOs and over 500 community volunteers. In Regional Microbiology programme in SAARC TB and HIV/AIDS Centre, I managed the regional programme. With my current job in WHO Myanmar I have managed over 116 staff. Administration is part and parcel of all post-graduation job carriers. Currently I am working the capacity of Scientist in WHO Country Office in Myanmar with the disease portfolio of malaria, neglected tropical diseases, environmental and occupational health and water, sanitation and hygiene and immunization.
  • Other awards and recognitions: I have received some recognitions which are :
    Gold Medal in Dr. PS Ranganatham Memorial Award paper presentation on paper titled, "Emergence of MDR-TB: threat to the TB and HIV control programme".36th National Conference of IASSTD & AIDS, Kochi, Kerala, India November 2-4, 2012; Outstanding student and Dean's Award of Mahidol University 2009; Graduate research paper presentation scholarship in National Conference, Thailand, 2008; and Graduate Thesis Research Scholarship. Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand.
Badri Thapa : I know that the most rewarding experience was to be accepted by Associate Professor Dr Chanwit Tribuddharat to supervise me for my PhD. I was committed to finishing my PhD in 3 years. It was only possible because of him and his guidance. I am so truly fortunate. Besides that, getting to learn from diverse faculty members from different departments with global educational background was equally immersive. Besides studies, it was rewarding to meet and interact with colleagues from different countries. This provided immense opportunity of cross learning. Likewise, the university also offered joint courses that provided networking opportunity with students from other departments, faculties and universities.
Badri Thapa : I would like to thank Mahidol University and all the people associated with this initiative. Specially my friend and PhD buddy Dr Aung Win Tun, Assistant Dean, International Affairs, Mahidol University. This has indeed motivated me further and inspired me to do more in public health and make Mahidol University proud. I am happy to share my public health and carrier experiences with young Mahidol students and aspirants to inspire them to become future public health leaders.