Perseverance pays off: Dr Deshanta Naicker achieves PhD in medicine to help improve lives

Dr Deshanta Naicker. Picture; Supplied

Dr Deshanta Naicker. Picture; Supplied

Published May 22, 2024


FROM a young age, Dr Deshanta Naicker haboured a desire to make a positive impact in the medical field. Earlier this month, the 29-year-old, of Redhill, graduated with a PhD in medicine from UKZN.

Naicker, who matriculated in 2013 from Northlands Girls' High School, said she chose medicine due to her mother's health struggles and the dedicated medical staff, who worked tirelessly to save her life.

“I wanted to be a medical doctor but I could not get a placement even though I received seven distinctions in matric, so I decided to pursue a bachelor of science; life and earth sciences stream (microbiology and biochemistry).

"I then did my honours in medical microbiology followed by my Master's in medical science (medicine) and finally my PhD in medicine. I am still in the medical field and able to help people through my research,” said Naicker.

Naicker's major was medicine research for sexually-transmitted infection.

“My novel pilot study, supervised by professor Nathlee Abbai, investigated a ‘reverse vaccinology’ approach and alternative therapeutics to combat gonorrhea. I also evaluated cost-effective assays to diagnose gonorrhea.”

She added that she was self-motivated and hoped to one day be a role model.

“I am proud to have achieved my PhD in medicine. It has been a journey filled with challenges and triumphs, but ultimately, it has been gratifying to reach this milestone.

"Looking ahead, my aspirations are firmly set on making a tangible impact in the healthcare sector. My passion lies in leveraging scientific research to improve patient outcomes and advance medical knowledge.

“I am grateful to the divine for guiding and blessing me throughout my journey. Additionally, I owe gratitude to my parents, Selvan and Mala Naicker, and my sister, Kim Naicker. I am also indebted to my supervisor and lab manager, Fazana Dessai, for their mentorship, guidance and support.

"Together, these pillars of support - faith, family and mentors - have propelled me forward, instilling in me the determination, resilience and gratitude that define my journey.”

The recent graduate is currently in search of a job. In her free time she enjoys meditation, walks on the beach, cooking, baking and painting.