In 2008 he came to Australia to join the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research in Melbourne, as a postdoctoral researcher. In 2011 he received a further two fellowships, one which led him to conduct research at the La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science (LIMS).
Today Dr Mathivanan heads a teamof ten biochemistry researchers at LIMS. He says the special form of RNA being studied in the NIH project - known as extracellular RNA or exRNA - travels around the body in little packages called exosomes and plays an important role in the way cells regulate and express genes.
For example, he says one potential application of these exosomes is in targeted gene delivery to treat cancer. 'Recently, there is significant interest in the use of exosomes as personalised targeted drug delivery vehicles for therapeutic use and as a source of biomarkers for disease diagnosis.
'With this additional funding from NIH and new discoveries, one day it may be possible to use exosomes as delivery vehicles targeting RNA in breast or colorectal cancer tissues to control the amount of deleterious proteins.'
La Trobe University Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research, Professor Keith Nugent said US-based NIH support for foreign institutions including Australian researchers was extremely rare. He said Dr Mathivanan will take part in the program which aims to advance critical research into a recently discovered way by which cells in our body communicate with each other via Ribonucleic acid (RNA), the single strand cousin of DNA.
'The US$375 000 grant and his role in the program signifies high-level recognition for the calibre of DrMathivanan's work and La Trobe's leadership in research focused at understanding disease,' Professor Nugent said.