Here at Adaptive, putting the patient first is a core value—a philosophy that deeply resonates with me. Similar to many of my fellow Adapters, my inspiration is personal and I’m excited by the tremendous potential impact we can have on human lives through the work we’re doing in our Immune Medicine and MRD businesses.
Growing up in New Delhi, India, my father worked for a large pharmaceutical company, while my mother was a physician and a professor of medicine. Some of my earliest memories are of accompanying her to medical school classes, which inspired me to eventually pursue a PhD in molecular biology and biochemistry.
My studies brought me to the U.S., where my interests shifted towards computer science and after school, I landed a role where I could apply both my software engineering and molecular biology training. At first, I oversaw the development of software used by genomic sequencing labs and then proceeded into business and technology management positions spanning a portfolio of products in genomics, pathology and pre-clinical research.
While my career progressed in the U.S., back at home in India my mom developed ovarian cancer. We brought her to UCLA to get the best care. Despite many years of quality treatment, my mom passed away at the age of 59 – much too soon.
Being on the patient’s side of the cancer journey had a profound influence on my professional path. I discovered that my true passion is in improving patient care by launching products that I would recommend for myself, my family members, or my friends.
When I came across the opportunity to join Adaptive, I was impressed by how well-positioned the company was for success. We have incredible capabilities in sequencing, data analysis, bioinformatics, and computational biology. I saw the tremendous potential in having a positive impact on human beings with minimal residual disease (MRD) monitoring. I thought back to when my mom was sick, and wished we’d had a modern, more accurate MRD test available at that time for ovarian cancer.
The Future of Cancer Diagnostics
The diagnostics that we and others are developing measure the genome (an organism’s genes), proteome (proteins expressed by the genome) or the immune repertoire (an immune system’s T-cell receptor and B-cell receptors). We are attempting to fundamentally understand the underlying nature of disease and using that information to make the right therapy or treatment choices.
An increasing number of complex and innovative therapeutics, like immunotherapies, are generating incredible responses in patients. Measuring MRD is going to be very important as they continue to be implemented across the cancer continuum.
Further, the initiatives the US government has taken, including the most recent recommitment to the Cancer Moonshot by President Biden, bode well for cancer treatment in general. At Adaptive, we’re approaching cancer treatment and management from a variety of angles. Our MRD tests in blood or bone marrow are guiding blood cancer treatment and helping patients as these treatments become more effective. Our drug discovery partnership with Genentech is seeking to take cancer immunotherapy to the next level with novel cellular therapies.
“Patients first” is the barometer I have used every day since I was once on the other side with my mom. Too many of us have had family members impacted by this disease. I feel incredibly lucky that I get to do this work on a day-to-day basis. It is so much fun to be here and to be participating in this impactful journey that we as Adapters are taking together.