Today we are highlighting Nimita Dave, Ph.D., Senior Scientist I, Blueprint Medicines in the Keep Calm and Ask a Woman Scientist series brought to you by AAPS’ Women in Pharmaceutical Science community.
Tell us more about yourself.
I received my B.Pharm from UICT, Mumbai. And then after spending a year at University of Rhode Island, transferred to Eastern Michigan University to complete my M.S. in Medicinal Chemistry. At that point, I wasn’t sure what subject I wanted to get my Ph.D. in, so I worked for two years for a small start-up company. Finally, I completed my Ph.D. in DMPK/PKPD from the College of Pharmacy at the University of Cincinnati in 2013 and went on to do a fellowship in Clinical Pharmacology at IU School of Medicine. My ‘Plan A’ was to become research faculty, but I did not get my K grant, and that is when I switched paths and joined industry. I spent two years as a Clinical Pharmacokineticist at Abbvie, Chicago and then moved to Cambridge about two years ago to join Blueprint Medicines.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in your career? How did you overcome that?
The biggest challenge was not receiving the K-grant after spending 3.5 years as a postdoctoral fellow, working hard to generate data, and writing the grant. But guess what? That happens to 90% (or more) people submitting the grant. That is when I knew my ‘Plan A’ may not succeed and had to think hard about what I wanted to do. Eventually, I joined the industry. The first couple of months were an adjustment, but I have learned a lot. And after two U.S./EU approvals as well as one Investigational New Drug submission. I am happy with what I have done in the past four years in the industry. At the end of the day, we all want to contribute to drug development and help patients. And to fulfill my passion of teaching, I continue to teach and mentor as adjunct faculty at University of Cincinnati.
Do you have experience receiving mentoring? If you do, what is the best advice you received from a mentor?
I have had some wonderful mentors along my journey—starting from Ph.D. mentor to my current senior management. I have been extremely fortunate to have the wonderful relationships with my mentors, where I can just call and chat about anything and everything, except for one mentor who passed away and I miss him a lot. The best advice I received was from him that, “science matters, outliers’ matter, and above all, people matter.” Women in science were outliers, but it is changing. And women scientists like us carry the huge responsibility of helping each other and helping future women scientists have impactful careers.
When you look back at your career, would you have done anything differently?
No, when I look back at my career, I feel like it has been a wonderful journey so far. I took my time to decide what subject I wanted to get my Ph.D. in, and that really helped. I love what I do. And, also, though my ‘Plan A’ did not succeed, I learned a lot in those years of postdoctoral fellowship.
Can you share two tips for early career professionals on how to develop their career successfully?
There are two main things to keep in mind—do what you are passionate about and do not be afraid of failures. Our childhoods are spent in very protective environment created by our wonderful families, and we never learn to handle failures until we are out in the real world. But we must learn from those setbacks in life and keep moving ahead.
What message would you like to give the women in pharmaceutical science field? What do you feel is the best way women can help each other in this field?
As I said before, we carry a huge responsibility of supporting each other and future generations to have more women scientists in our field. I would like to end with a quote from Ruth Bader Ginsberg, “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.” So, let us work together and get to the C-suites, government agencies, and university leadership positions!