In our Alumni Career Spotlight series, you will meet some of our alumni and learn about the important work they are doing to create a healthier nation and world.
Employer: Daiichi Sankyo Inc.
Current position: Associate Director
Degrees: PhD in Biostatistics, Indiana University, 2014
Why did you choose your major/program?
I did my master’s in agricultural statistics, and then it just happened that I joined a pharmaceutical company as a statistician. During my 3.5 years of work in the pharmaceutical company, I felt the need for a PhD degree for two reasons: (a) to learn advanced statistical techniques that can be used in clinical research, and (b) to advance my career in clinical research. These were the reasons that pushed me toward admission for PhD in Biostatistics.
I got offered for admission with full funding from several universities in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. I had three criteria in mind: research interest of faculty, detailed coursework and the amount of research/teaching exposure I will get. After careful consideration, I opted for the IU School of Medicine because it seemed to be the best fit.
Do you have any research interests?
My current research interest includes drug development in oncology, and therefore, survival or time-to-event data analysis. Precisely speaking, in the survival data analysis, my fascination is to address the issue with the statistical analysis of long-term treatment benefits (also known as delayed treatment effect) in cancer patients. Besides that, I am also doing research in proof of concept (PoC) design, quantitative decision making, and dose-titration methodologies. In the past, I have published articles on CART methodology, surrogate endpoint, and functional data analysis.
I have authored over 30 publications in journals including lancet of oncology, annals of oncology, clinical cancer research, statistics in medicine, pharmaceutical statistics, contemporary clinical trials, statistical modeling, biostatistics and epidemiology, and statistical analysis and data mining. I have written two book reviews published in biopharmaceutical statistics and reviewed nearly 40 articles in peer-reviewed journals. Currently, I am an associate editor in the Journal of Contemporary Clinical Trials, and Journal of Contemporary Clinical Trials Communications.
Briefly describe your career path.
After my master’s, I worked in India in the pharmaceutical company for three years. I did two summer internships (2012 and 2013) during my PhD. Right after my PhD dissertation, I joined Novartis in NJ in 2014. In 2017, I moved to AbbVie. I joined Daiichi Sankyo Inc. in 2020 and since then I have been working here.
Describe what an average day for you might be like.
My current organization has offices in the U.S., Europe, and Japan, and therefore, most of the days I have meetings really early in the morning, and also very late in the evening, thanks to the time difference between the U.S. and Japan. So on an average day, I wake up early in the morning at 6, have meetings for an hour or two, then drop my son at school, come back and resume work, pick up my son from school in the afternoon, and attend a meeting if any in the evening.
What advice would you give your college self about pursuing your current career path or industry?
So if you are majoring in biostatistics and are interested in clinical research in the pharmaceutical industry, then thank you and congratulations, because this field still requires a lot of qualified people like you, and I don’t see that demand going down anytime soon. Try to acquire as much skill as possible whether be it programming or a sound understanding of statistics; it never goes unnoticed and always pays you back. Another important piece of information is don’t limit yourself to your thesis, diversify your knowledge – actively participate in seminars, be attentive to your coursework. Learn from your classmates. Be curious, think and ask thoughtful questions.
What is a lesson learned at FSPH that you have been able to apply to your career?
I have learned many valuable skills, thanks to my advisor Prof. Harezlak, and all the teachers who taught me. However, the major skills that I learned from my advisor were how to do research, how to write a research paper, and how to make an effective presentation.
What is the most significant thing that’s happened to you since graduating?
I can think of one and only one thing, and that is the arrival of my son in 2016.
What’s next for you?
I can’t think of doing anything other than clinical research. So I want to stay in my current profession, do the right things, and let’s see where destiny takes me.
What is your favorite IUPUI/FSPH memory?
It was an early morning epidemiology class. And, I did not have enough sleep the previous night. I was trying very hard to keep my eyes open in class. And it was even scarier because a few weeks back one student was found sleeping in the class and the instructor asked him to leave.
And, then all of sudden, I felt someone punch my shoulder. Actually, I almost dropped my sleepy head on the fellow student sitting next to me. Thanks to her for her unique way to wake me up, otherwise worse could have happened, probably the instructor asking me to leave the class.