Spotlight Interview with Dr. Sonali Das, Head – Syngene Target Diligence Services

  1. Why did you decide to do a webinar with us?

My team and I have been working in the Target Analysis space for over a decade now, and it has been a very rewarding and productive experience. A knowledge sharing session hosted on BR webinar seemed to be an appropriate way to give back to a community that has done so much for us.


  1. What will the audience gain from attending your webinar?

The biopharma world is constantly seeking cost effective ways to reduce drug target attrition. Our experience with our clients (both big pharma and biotech) has shown that comprehensive in silico assessment, deployed effectively, can form the base for a practical strategy for 360° target analysis. This webinar will provide insights on designing a decision-making algorithm for selecting the right drug target and demonstrate the value of in silico 360° target analyses with supporting case-studies. I am optimistic that the discovery research community, both in academics and industry, will benefit immensely from the knowledge shared in this webinar.


  1. How did you get into the industry and what do you most enjoy about your role?

 After earning a Ph.D. in molecular and cellular immunology, I spent some time as a research fellow at the University of California, Santa Barbara, to gain further insights into the molecular basis of viral infections. Armed with a decade’s worth of curiosity-driven research experience and training at the world’s premier research laboratories, I joined a Bioinformatics start-up in Bangalore. There, our dynamic, multi-disciplinary team of researchers created a patented platform that aids discovery research during Lead Optimization. A decade-long association with the project helped me gain a deep understanding of drug discovery research and provided me opportunities to interact with leaders in the field as mentors, colleagues, and clients.

About four years ago, I moved to a global CRO, Syngene. Syngene has provided me greater opportunities to partner with global pharma leaders to apply findings from various fields of biology towards new drug development. Along with my team of biologists and bio-informaticians, I help biopharma organizations make informed decisions on their early-phase drug development pipeline and optimize resource utilization. It gives me great satisfaction when a client provides feedback on how our analysis helped them arrive at the best decision. It also gives me immense pleasure to see my junior colleagues growing, gaining confidence, and making key contributions to achieving organizational goals, under my leadership. Identifying and nurturing the unique skillsets of each of my team members is an aspect of my role that I particularly enjoy. The challenge of continuously delivering enhanced value to our clients while working within the demanding timelines of the industry is what drives me every single day!


  1. What are you hoping to achieve in the future in your personal and professional life?

I wish to share the knowledge and process behind making an “informed decision”, which is key to the success of any new drug discovery program. Working on customized solutions to scientific problems is something that keeps me motivated, and I hope to continue working in this exciting field for many more years.


  1. What would someone be surprised to know about you?

All through my academic life, from undergraduate studies to postdoctoral research, I enjoyed scientific research to decipher the unknown and publish the work in reputed international journals and present it in front of the scientific community.

My present role does, at times, demand ingenious thought-provoking problem-solving skills. However, being a part of the service industry, I find that I need to exercise a slightly different skill set, to help lead a concerted effort to solve problems for advancing discovery programs. Perhaps my academic mentors would be (pleasantly) surprised to see me leading a successful business endeavor and providing solutions for clients rather than being a group leader of an academic research laboratory. However, being a leader at the intersection of cutting-edge science and business facing the challenges of finding a drug is addictive!

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