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Mumbai grocer\'s son\'s HIV project in final 3 for Harvard award
 
While pursuing a master's in biomedical engineering, Khetani made it to Harvard for his master's thesis earlier this year, where he is working on creating a low-cost, flexible microchip that can detect HIV at the point of diagnosis.

By TNN




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Sultan Khetani, a youth from a small village in Gujarat’s Amreli district, is now part of a team of researchers whose project on HIV has made it to the finals of a prestigious award at Harvard.

MUMBAI: Sultan Khetani, a youth from a small village in Gujarat's Amreli district, is now part of a team of researchers whose project on HIV has made it to the finals of a prestigious award at Harvard.

The son of grocer in Dharagani village, Khetani left home when he was barely four years old and lived in hostels in Panchgani and Mumbai, set up by the Fidai Trust and the Life Trust, both of which work towards the betterment of the Khoja Ismaili community. The trusts took care of his education. "I have been very lucky. I have always been surrounded by people who believed in the need for a good education," says Khetani.

While studying engineering in Mumbai, he discovered his passion for biomedical engineering. "I always wanted to do something that involved both machines and the human body," he says. While pursuing a master's in biomedical engineering, Khetani made it to Harvard for his master's thesis earlier this year, where he is working on creating a low-cost, flexible microchip that can detect HIV at the point of diagnosis. Simply put, this would mean creating a device that would help people detect whether their bodies contained the virus, much the way a glucometer helps diabetes patients measure their glucose levels.

Khetani is part of a team of eight researchers working on the project, which has made it to the finals of Harvard Medical School's BWH Bright Future Prize. The project is one of three finalists.

The winning team gets a cash prize of $100,000 for research. While the finalists were chosen through a team of experts, the winner will be selected through an online voting system.

Khetani is currently in Mumbai to promote the project, along with Dr Hadi Shafee, the Iranian head of the research team. Those who wish to vote for the HIV project can log on to the BWH Bright Future Prize website.

All through Tuesday, Khetani addressed college students in the city about his work, in a bid to encourage them to pursue a similar field. He has even visited the hostel in Panchgani where he grew up, and spoke of his work to the students there.

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