Nandita Menon

Nandita Menon

Nandita Menon

2023 3MT Finalist


Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am currently a second-year PhD student at U of T’s Faculty of Dentistry. I have degrees in Biotechnology and Chemical Engineering. I moved to Canada from Singapore in 2020 and loved it so much here that I decided to stay for good!

What are you researching?

I am developing a diagnostic device that will emulate the human gum. This compact design will be able to measure differences in key inflammatory markers in saliva. In-built Bluetooth sensors will relay critical range values to a smartphone; based on the readings, personalized treatment plans can be designed for individuals.

What impact do you hope to have on your field and / or your community?

The Canadian Dental Association states that 7 out of 10 Canadians will develop gum disease at some time in their lives. Dental diseases impact quality of life in several individuals. What makes gum disease worse is that systemic health conditions like diabetes and Alzheimer’s have been linked to gum inflammation.

While scientists work hard to understand the correlation between gum disease and systemic health problems, identifying early markers in saliva can help people from developing serious health conditions or slow down disease progression. I am hoping to contribute to the field of medicine by developing an affordable device that can be used at home, and without any technical expertise. Think of your favourite dessert and spit to find out if you might be at risk of developing diabetes!

How has the 3MT helped you with your professional development?

Scientific research is all about collaboration and 3MT has been a fantastic platform to meet students and faculty from other departments. This is a great way to gain insight from others on your field of work. It is natural to narrow your thinking when you’re focused on a single theme. But sometimes all it takes is fresh perspective and you might discover (or rediscover) how much potential your work really has!