1) When did you first become interested in science?
It was in my tenth grade I got interested in science. My first lab experiment was when I joined a research institute as a summer intern and the excitement I felt when I accomplished first successful experiment helped me make the decision to pursue a career in science.
2) Why did you pick The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and your program?
I picked UT Health San Antonio for two reasons:
- As internationally UT system is a well reputed educational institute
- The fact that all Ph.D. students are offered a decent stipend
3) Tell me more about your career path.
I am currently working as a senior scientist with drug discovery group in Merck Research Laboratories in San Francisco. The journey to reach to this point in my career started back in 2004. Right after attaining my post-graduation degree in Biochemistry, I joined a pharmaceutical company, Ranbaxy Pharmaceuticals in India. The 1.5 yrs of experience in this company helped me decide my next career path. I decided to get a doctoral degree in Biochemistry while adding on to my research experience. So for my Ph.D. I moved to USA and joined The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio in 2006. In 2011, I finished my doctoral program and I joined the same university as a post-doctoral fellow at San Antonio Cardiovascular Proteomics Center. An year later my mentor, Dr. Merry Lindsey moved to University of Mississippi Medical Center and I decided to move with her and continued my postdoctoral position until September 2017. In October 2017, I got the opportunity to pursue my dream and I joined Merck Research Laboratories, South San Francisco as a senior scientist.
4) Tell me about your current career, what do you do?
In my role as a Senior Scientist with Merck Research Laboratories, I am part of the Discovery Biology group in target identification and validation process.
5) What is a day like in your job?
A day starts with either responding emails or starting an experiment. The day also involves attending multiple meetings with different core groups for data or program discussion and possible collaboration. Somedays also involve presenting seminars or meeting reps from service industry.
6) How did the education you get at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio prepare you?
I received my doctoral degree from UT Health San Antonio. A Ph.D. provides with the art of learning. Having this degree prepared me to be adaptable to work in any or multiple field of drug discovery.
7) What is the most challenging part of your work?
To determine the best experiment to be done to make final go/no go decision for a target. Not to get too passionate about a target.
8) What is the most rewarding part of your work?
To be able to move the target to next level of drug discovery process. The most rewarding experience is to realize you made a tangible contribution to the drug discovery process which in coming years may save or improve quality of life for patients.
9) What has been your proudest achievement?
To be able to work for a reputed pharma company and join the drug discovery process.
10) What would you tell a current student interested in your career? Any advice?
Hard work always brings back rewards in the most unexpected form. So always work hard and keep faith and patience.
11) What do you like to do outside of work?
Travel a lot. Be involved in philanthropy.
12) Who has influenced you the most in life?
13) If you were stranded on a deserted island, what one band or musician would help keep your sanity?
My best friend who is an amazing singer too.
14) What do you consider your favorite hobby?
15) What is your favorite quote?
‘Woods are lovely dark and deep but I have miles to go before I sleep.’
16) If you could have dinner with one person, living or dead, who would it be?
Ratan Tata or Warren Buffett.
17) If you won the lottery, what would you do?
Invest in savings.
18) If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
There is a whole list of places – places that have lot of history or places that are close to nature.
19) If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
20) Which authors or books have influenced you the most?
I am not yet influenced by any. I do like authors who have the power to motivate with their words or the authors who create a whole new world with their words (J.K Rowling or J.R.R Tolkien or Dan Brown).
21) Tell us something about yourself that otherwise we wouldn’t know or guess.
I watch a lot of TV and lot of movies.