Biological Sciences

Vote for your winner - Being Edinburgh Award

School of Biological Sciences graduate, Swetha Kannan, is one of five finalists of the 2024 Being Edinburgh Award.

The annual Being Edinburgh alumni award is about a desire to know more about individuals whose lives and achievements should be shared and celebrated. People who are making a difference in ways that aren't always visible, but whose actions positively affect others.

Swetha Kannan graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Immunology in 2021 and is one of the five finalists shortlisted for the 2024 Being Edinburgh Award. Find out more and vote for Swetha below.

Swetha Kannan

Swetha - Being Edinburgh award nominee 2024

Swetha Kannan is a successful junior scientist, educator, and social entrepreneur currently affiliated with the University of Cambridge.

During her time in Edinburgh she made significant contributions to the student and local community, including establishing the first student Society for Immunology, reviving the Gene and Cell Society, and volunteering at hospices and child-care homes.

As a result of these efforts, Swetha received several awards from the university and was also chosen as the ‘valedictorian’ (student orator) at the School of Biological Sciences graduation ceremony in March 2023.

Coping with chronic illness and having lost family and friends to inequitable healthcare in India, she became determined to dedicate her life to service by combining her passion for science with her drive for social entrepreneurship.

Lalitha Foundation

Her life took an important new direction at the age of 18, when she had to serve as primary caregiver to her grandmother following a cancer diagnosis. Her experiences led her to establish the Lalitha Foundation in Bangalore in 2019.

The foundation, named after her grandmother, is dedicated to the psychological wellbeing of caregivers and patients with chronic illnesses such as cancer. It has enabled several thousand patients to improve their overall quality of life, raising money to mobilise services to rural areas and providing free psychological treatment to marginalised communities.

The foundation has now expanded its services to several cities, towns and rural districts in India and has been approached for collaboration by healthcare organizations in the UK and Africa.

Scientific Entrepreneurship

Swetha is currently also leading India’s first structured immunology education and research initiative aimed at students/early career scientists in biosciences/medicine which has been extensively featured by the media.

Swetha's commitment to scientific entrepreneurship, education for social good has led her to receive several prestigious honors ranging from the Trinity Hall Volunteering Award to Lee-Yung Family Fund for Entrepreneurship, both presented by the University of Cambridge.

Her innovation was judged as the one showing most promise, leading to Swetha being named winner of the Trinity Hall entrepreneurship competition held for awardees of a preliminary grant as part of the Lee-Yung Fund.

Swetha was also elected as an Access to Healthcare Scholar/Fellow at the renowned Clinton Global Initiative in 2019, named a 'Leader of Tomorrow' by Global Biotech Revolution and chosen as a winner of their 'Voices of Tomorrow' social impact competition at GapSummit'22 (Cambridge).

In June 2023, Swetha was named as one of the three winners of Falling Walls Lab Cambridge for 'breaking the inequitable wall of cancer care' through her pioneering innovations, in collaboration with clinicians in India, to develop equitable/accessible precision cancer diagnostics and therapeutics in LMICs.

Swetha’s successes in science and social entrepreneurship have been featured by several prestigious local and global news channels. In light of her achievements, Swetha has also been shortlisted by Cofinitive as one of the Top 21 people, companies and inventions in Cambridge/East England.

As a feather to her crown, Swetha was honored with the most prestigious accolade a young person can receive for their humanitarian work, The Diana Award, earlier this year.


Her vision to make the world a kinder and more equitable place, coupled with her passion for scientific research-driven healthcare has led her to recently develop a novel chemotherapeutic nanoparticle formulation-based pill for patients with cancer, which can be self-administered at home.

It will soon be released in rural India where common cancer treatments are severely constrained by the availability of hospital beds/intravenous ports for drug delivery.

Alongside this, she is pioneering the development of the first portable Quantum Electron-Tunnelling Based Spectroscope for the early detection of cancers in countries like India where a major barrier to cancer care is late detection of cancers due to poor awareness and limited accessibility of quality screening methods. 

Degree: 2021 Biological Science (Immunology)

About Swetha Kannan

How to vote

You can vote by filling out the secure form below. Voting closes at 5pm on Monday 11th March 2024.

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