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Sakthi Vaiyapuri


Areas of interest

Venomous snakebites are a major public health concern, particularly in rural areas of developing countries, where access to medical treatment is limited. The development of new, effective treatments and improved awareness and understanding of snakebites have the potential to save countless lives, reduce disabilities, and improve the socioeconomic outcomes for communities affected by this devastating condition. Our primary focus in research is on creating novel approaches to substantially decrease deaths, disabilities, and socioeconomic effects caused by snakebites in rural communities worldwide. To achieve this, we use a strong multidisciplinary approach by collaborating with different groups and combining laboratory studies, clinical investigation of snakebite victims, public outreach to raise awareness about snakes and snakebites, and policy development. So far, our efforts have produced significant results in saving lives and influencing policy development. Our research also involves studying how snake venom toxins affect the body under different conditions and improving diagnostic and treatment methods for snakebites. For instance, we are exploring the connection between viper venoms, which are haemotoxic, and the blood coagulation system. Our team has identified and studied several haemotoxic venom proteins, including a molecule called snaclec from the venom of the Bitis gabonica rhinoceros that blocks a specific protein on platelets and endothelial cells to induce bleeding. We are now focusing on understanding the molecular makeup of snake venom toxins and how they interact with the blood, muscles, and nervous system as well as other tissues, and developing next-generation antivenoms to treat snakebites. Additionally, we are researching the medical uses of venoms from various invertebrates, many of which have never been studied before. Our ultimate goal is to greatly reduce the impact of snakebites in rural communities living in poverty by improving scientific research on venoms and public knowledge about snakes/snakebites.

In addition to our venom research, we are also investigating the mechanisms behind thromboinflammatory processes and creating better strategies to address them in various disease situations. Understanding how various biomolecules work together to control cellular interactions and responses during inflammatory diseases is crucial. Platelets, small blood cells, help control bleeding by causing the blood to clot (haemostasis). However, their unwarranted activation in disease conditions can cause blood clots (thrombosis) within the blood vessels that lead to dangerous conditions like heart attacks and strokes. Although platelets are important in both maintaining healthy blood flow and causing thrombosis, they also play a role in inflammation by interacting with other cells. Our research group is mainly focusing on the interplay of different circulating molecules and receptors involved in inflammation, such as formyl peptide and toll-like receptors, on the surface of platelets, monocytes, and neutrophils, and how they control multicellular interactions and complex functions during the inflammatory responses. Understanding the role of platelets in human health and disease is critical for the development of new treatments for a range of conditions, including heart disease, stroke, and inflammatory disorders. Indeed, we are determining the therapeutic potential of numerous natural, synthetic, and venom-derived molecules to control thromboinflammatory responses under various disease settings. 

Research centres and groups

Current Group Members

  • Dr Elanchezhian Rajan - Postdoctoral Research Associate
  • Dr Jose De Almeida - Postdoctoral Research Associate
  • Eman Alzahrani - PhD
  • Medha Sonavane - PhD
  • Anika Salim - PhD
  • Pradeep Vijayakumar - PhD
  • Soheil Gilabadi - PhD
  • Nick Richards - PhD
  • Jarred Williams - PhD
  • Jomanah Alqallaf - PhD
  • Sodiq Adeyemi - PhD
  • Soofia Khatibi - PhD

 Alumni members

  • Dr Divya Ravishankar
  • Dr Adam Gadd
  • Dr Maryam Salamah
  • Dr Harry Williams
  • Dr Dina Albadawi
  • Dr Kahdr Alatawi
  • Dr Thomas Vallance
  • Dr Shahtha Alomar
  • Mr Harry Layfield

Local Collaborators

  • Professor Ketan Patel, School of Biological Sciences
  • Professor Jonathan Gibbins, School of Biological Sciences
  • Professor Helen Osborn, School of Pharmacy
  • Dr Darius Widera, School of Pharmacy
  • Dr Andrew Bicknell, School of Biological Sciences
  • Dr David Leake, School of Biological Sciences
  • Dr Chris Jones, School of Biological Sciences
  • Dr Fazil Baksh, Department of Mathematics and Statistics
  • Dr Maria Maiaru, School of Pharmacy

National Collaborators

  • Mr Steve Trim, Venomtech Ltd, UK
  • Professor Martyn Mahaut-Smith, University of Leicester, UK
  • Professor Mauro Perretti, William Harvey Research Institute, London, UK
  • Professor Sue Brain, Kings College London, UK
  • Dr Stephen Paul Samuel, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King's Lynn, UK

International Collaborators

  • Professor Andreas Laustsen, Technical University of Denmark
  • Professor Ponniah TKS, Tamil Nadu Dr MGR Medical University, India
  • Dr Subramanian Senthilkumaran, Manian Medical Centre, India
  • Dr C Soundara Raj, TCR Multispeciality Hospital, India
  • Dr Sundhararajan, Trichy SRM Medical College Hospital & Research Centre, India
  • Dr Kartik Sunagar, Indian Institute of Science, India
  • Mr Gnaneswar, Madras Crocodile Bank Trust, India
  • Dr Harry Williams, Toxiven Biotech, India
  • Dr Matthew Lewin, California Academy of Sciences, USA
  • Mr Steve Miller, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, USA
  • Dr David Mburu, Pwani University, Kenya

Membership in Professional Bodies

  • American Heart Association
  • International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis
  • International Society on Toxinology
  • British Society for Cardiovascular Research
  • British Society for Haematology
  • The Physiological Society
  • The Platelet Society

 Editorial responsibilities

  • Guest Editor for two special issues on venoms in Toxins
  • Guest Editor for a special collection on venom in Scientific Reports
  • Guest Editor for a special issue in Frontiers in Pharmacology
  • Editorial board member for Toxins
  • Editorial board member for Scientific Reports
  • Editorial board member for Frontiers in Pharmacology
  • Editorial board member for BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine  

Research projects

Research funding

  • University of Reading (2023) Impact funding, £20,000 (PI)
  • Medical Research Council (2022) Project grant, £520,000 (PI)
  • Medical Research Council (2022) ITTP PhD studentship, £102,000 (PI)
  • University of Reading (2021) RETF Research grant, £19,000 (PI)
  • The Royal Society (2020) Senior Research Fellowship, £60,000 (PI)
  • Global Challenges Research Fund (2020) Policy engagement fund, £26,000 (PI)
  • British Heart Foundation (2019) Project grant, £204,000 (PI)
  • University of Reading (2018) BOISP Impact Funding (£20,000) (PI)
  • Saudi Arabian Cultural Bureau (2017) PhD Studentship, £150,000 (PI)
  • University of Reading (2016) 2020 Research Fellowship, £5000 (PI)
  • British Heart Foundation (2016) PhD Studentship, £107,299 (PI)
  • Saudi Arabian Cultural Bureau (2016) PhD Studentship, £150,000 (PI)
  • The Wellcome Trust (2016) Seed Award in Science, £98,333 (PI)
  • British Heart Foundation (2016) Project Grant, £170,397 (PI)
  • Saudi Arabian Embassy (2016) PhD Studentship, £150,000 (PI)
  • The Physiological Society (2015) Research Grant, £9936 (PI)
  • The Royal Society (2015) Research Grant, £14,999 (PI)
  • Saudi Arabian Embassy (2015) PhD Studentship, £138,000 (PI)

Impact, Enterprise, and Outreach

2022: University of Reading: Live snake-worship bite accident highlights the need for change

2022: Vikatan magazine: Snakebite to a tongue of a victim

2022: News18 Tamil TV Channel: What to do if a snake bites you? Professor’s guidance to tribal students.

2022: Chennai Press News; Launch of insurance schemes for snakebite victims by Prof. Sakthivel Vaiyapuri, University of Reading & Star Health Insurance

2022: University of Reading; A new biomarker to guide the early treatment for snakebite-induced kidney damage

2021; University of Reading; MRC funds new venomous snakebite research

2021: British Heart Foundation; Sakthi Vaiyapuri – The Sky is the Limit

2021: University of Reading; Snakebite venom expert joins WHO roster to address the neglected issue

2021: The Telegraph; Snakebite victims seek help in crucial early hours after awareness campaign, study shows 

2021: University of Reading; Low-cost snakebite campaign in south India saving lives

2020: The Hindu; Number of snakebite cases goes up at GRH

2020: Berkshire Live/ Get Reading; Prince Edward meets University of Reading scientists working on new coronavirus technology

2020: The Reading Chronicle; University of Reading research to look at new treatments for snakebites thanks to funding

2020: The Federal; Snakebites highest in India, anti-venoms largely ineffective

2019: CNN; Snakebites: The hidden health crisis that kills 200 people a day

2019: The Times of India; Snake venom detection kit may bring down mortality rates

2019: The Hindu; Around 10,000 die of snakebites in T.N. a year

2019: University of Reading Blog; Spreading the word about snakebite

2018: UTC Reading; STEM Trip to Reading University

2018: University of Reading; Life-changing research: shortlist announced for research engagement and impact awards 2018

2017: DhakaTribune; Snakebite awareness: A story from Tamil Nadu

2017:; Children in rural India are left to depend on a 125-year-old medicine when bitten by snakes      

2016: Rural 21; Snakebite brings social and financial burden among Indian farmers

2015: Scientific American: Snakebite antivenom development is stuck in the 19th century. What’s next?

2014: The Guardian; India's snakebite victims could be offered lifesaving low-cost nasal spray                                                                                  

2014: The New York Times; The Killers Underfoot

2014: The Times of India; Snakebite deaths register rattling surge, finds study

2013: University of Reading; In a lift with... Dr Sakthivel Vaiyapuri

2007: Reading Post/Get Reading/Berkshire Live: Snakes alive-working with deadly venom

2006: University of Reading Alumni Magazine; Researching For A Bright Future

Awards and honours

2023: Vice President of the Young Academy of India 

2022: Young Achiever Award from the Institute of Scholars, India

2022: ‘Fellow’ of the Royal Society of Biology

2022: ‘Teaching Excellence Award’ from the Reading University Students’ Union

2022: ‘Research for a Better World’ competition award from the University of Reading

2022: ‘Best Research Output Award’ from the University of Reading

2022: ‘Best Research Project Award’ from the School of Pharmacy, University of Reading

2021: Elected as a Fellow of the Young Academy of India

2021: ‘Best Oral Presentation Award’ at the 1st International Electronic Conference on Toxins

2020: Royal Society Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowship

2020: Lump Sum Award for Research Excellence from the University of Reading

2020: ‘Best Research Project Award’ from the School of Pharmacy, University of Reading

2019: Research Travel Award from the University of Reading

2018: ‘Best Research Project Award’ from the Physiological Society

2018: Winner of ‘Research Engagement and Impact Awards 2018’ for the ‘Embark’ category

2017: Celebrating Success Award from the University of Reading

2017: 2020 Research Fellowship from the University of Reading

2016: ‘Research Inspired Teaching Excellence Award’ by Reading University Students’ Union

2016: ‘Best Research Project Award’ from the School of Pharmacy, University of Reading

2015: ‘Best UROP Research Project Award’ from the University of Reading

2014: Best Cover Art Award of 2013 at ATVB Conference in Toronto 

2014: Finalist for the ‘Kenneth M. Brinkhous Young Investigator Award in Thrombosis’ by the American Heart Association 

2013: Best Research Output Award for the Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Reading

2010: ICMR research development award, University of Reading

2007: Leonard Sutton Scholarship Award for research assistantship, University of Reading

2007: Selected (as 1 in 10 in the UK) by British Council to present snake venom research in the ‘International Networking of Young Scientists’ at Slovak Republic

2007: Selected (1/12 in the UK) to present venom research in ‘Young Modellers Forum’ at London

2005: Best overall presentation award received at the International Conference on Poverty and Marginalisation, University of Reading

2005: Felix scholarship for PhD at the University of Reading

2002: Gnanam Endowment Fellowship for Research at the University of Madras, Chennai, India

2002: University rank holder (4th Rank) award, University of Madras, Chennai, India

2001: Summer Research Fellowship award from the University of Madras, Chennai, India

2001: University rank holder (5th Rank) award, Thanthai Hans Roever College, India

2000: ‘Best Student award’ received at Thanthai Hans Roever College, Tamil Nadu, India

2000: Winner of an intercollege quiz competition at Shrimathi Indira Gandhi College, India 


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