Biocon Biologics  /  Stories  /  Anita Rao

Anita Rao

Project Group Lead – R&D

Women have a lot of choices for career and my advice to them is to choose wisely.

As a student, what inspired you to build your career in science?

As a high-school student, I was fascinated by the experiments conducted by Gregor Mendel on sweet pea flowers to understand the transmission of traits from generation to generation. I was drawn to this concept of research wherein you conduct experiments to uncover or understand biological processes. Genetics, especially plant genetics, was a wonder to me, and I decided then to pursue a career in learning and research which later kindled a passion to do a Ph.D. and later a post-doc because they were the best pathways to pursue if research is what excited you. Since then, the joy of designing and planning an experiment, and setting up appropriate controls to ensure that the outcomes which will be generated are not ambiguous have what have challenged and kept me glued to research in biology.

Did you face any hurdles on your journey as a woman pursuing science as a career choice? How did you overcome the hurdle?

I did not face major hurdles in pursuing science other than the minor ones such as studying abroad and gaining support on the decision to complete my Ph.D. before marrying. These required convincing and commitment from my side which was easily done. I have a very supportive family.

What keeps you motivated in your career journey?

I started my career in Biocon in the Pharmacokinetics (PK) lab as a lead, supporting the development of PK assays for testing in the various clinical studies being conducted by Biocon independently or jointly in partnership with Mylan (now Viatris). I did gain some experience in method development and validation in my past jobs. However, since this was linked to clinical trials, it was both new and exciting. Over the years, I moved to a technical lead position overseeing multiple projects for all of Biocon’s therapeutics and the team expanded its capabilities to include immunogenicity assays as well. During a re-organization in the R&D department in mid-2018, I was given the role of a project group leader or analytical lead for four of the Insulin analogues in the Viatris collaboration overseeing three other analytical functions, in addition to the Pharmacokinetic function. As a PGL, I had the opportunity to understand and interact with stakeholders across the drug development chain, from the process to analytics, manufacturing and regulatory. This significantly enhanced my knowledge base along with providing the insight and opportunity to improve processes at various stages.

Tell us about your journey with Biocon/the role that Biocon has played in your journey of growth.

Biocon opened the doors to research for me in India when I relocated from the US. It has given me both the breadth and depth in terms of knowledge and experience in drug development and the biosimilar industry. Being the premier biotech company in India, it attracts the best talents and I learn every day from the varied expertise of my peers, managers and team members. It has enriched me both professionally and technically by providing opportunities to attend conferences, travel for regulatory submissions and interact with partners at a global level whilst still overseeing research.

In addition to this, the various leadership opportunities provided by Biocon have been fulfilling. I have been part of the IIM-B course for the top 20 women leaders, and this was designed to make leaders out of us and to understand industry functioning. It also helped create camaraderie between women in other functions which would not have been possible.


A message/advice for aspiring young women scientists.

These days women have a lot of choices for career and my advice to them is to choose wisely. Science has advanced significantly in the last two decades and there are a lot of fields and areas to pursue. That said, as always, good training and understanding of the fundamentals of science are very critical. As with any other career, science needs a lot of dedication and commitment, and what we gain is a far better understanding of the universe and life.

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