Prashant Chandra (Year: 2008)

B. Pharm,  Dr. M.G.R. Medical University, Chennai, Tamil Nadu.

Personal statement:
One of the attractions of this program is its inter-disciplinary nature; I think this will help a great deal in my career, as I will gain acquaintance with relevant areas from major disciplines in sciences. The fact that the Institute has access to several national and international journals and offers world-class facilities to its students, besides having a group of learned group of faculty members, has made me very keen on joining here for my pursuit of science of consciousness and the exciting areas connected to it.
There are several outstanding issues in science. Whether we are nothing but our genes and what genes can and cannot do is still a highly debatable question. The entire scientific community was taken by surprise when they found that the number of genes in humans was much less than what was predicted; it is intriguing how a highly complex being like man came about to have just a few genes more than a fruit fly! These are very exciting areas in science, and I learn that the Bhaktivedanta Institute has this issue (about genes) as one of the areas in their research agenda. I would be privileged to be a part of this work at the Institute. There is a lot of research going on on this broad topic; gene therapy, biotechnology, cloning, stem cell research are few of them.             
During my B. Pharmacy days I got fascinated by human brain/mind. Do neurotransmitters cause various states of te mind or they are just associated with the respective mental states? Are we just our mind/brain or something more? What is memory and how is it created? Are the mechanisms of memory in humans and animals the same? I used to think about these and other questions. There are several neurological problems such as dyslexia, autism, schizophrenia, alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, bipolar disorder, epilepsy, ADHD, aphasia, and so on. We don not yet know their exact causes and don’t also have their complete cures. Also, we don’t know how brain gives rise to behavior; how it allows us to learn and have memories, be able to talk and so on; we don’t know what exactly happens when anaesthesia is given and the state of mind/brain in coma; we don’t know what is unconscious mind, its connection with the conscious mind and how it influences our conscious mind; how do sometimes people remain “conscious” even after being anaesthesized? We don’t know what emotions are and how do they originate in brains; to what extent and in what ways emotions are connected to reasoning;  and whether we can explain everything about the brain in terms of its biochemical features; what is artificial intelligence; how is the mind state connected to various body states especially in case of bodily disorders. These are only few of the exciting areas I’d be interested in pursuing. I am also interested in pursuing the foundations of science. I think that in this course I will get an opportunity to study all these areas and much more.
I think that this course will help me in achieving very good expertise in the area of my interest; I learn that there is a course called Guided Study in each semester as a part of which I can choose a topic, and do a research project in the same. I have gone through the Institute’s website and taken a look at the four approaches to study consciousness: “Current empirical science can now adequately account for the phenomenon of consciousness; science needs to evolve in a fundamentally new way in order to study the phenomenon of consciousness; consciousness cannot be studied within empirical science at all”. The Institute’s fourth approach to Consciousness Studies is very exciting. The Relational Property Viewpoint proposes the existence of relational properties which are different from primary and secondary properties. The consciousness-based study of matter, about studying consciousness-like properties of matter, is a very interesting and approach indeed, and I would be keen on pursuing it.