Please tell us about yourself. How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and unique career?

As a seventh-grade student in India, Madhuparna Chakraborty ‘17G volunteered to assist cerebral palsy patients at a local hospital near her home in Kolkata, India, and realized how much research is needed to fight disease. “The people suffering with cerebral palsy were my age,” said Chakraborty. “They could have been me or any one of my friends, and they had a hard time with simple tasks that I took for granted, like grabbing a spoon. It made me realize that doctors need more information if they are going to help people. I knew research was the way to go.”

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What did you study?

Chakraborty received her Bachelor of Science with Honors in Molecular Biology at the Institute of Genetic Engineering in Kolkata before earning her Master of Science in Biology at St. John’s. While a graduate student, Chakraborty served as a lab instructor as well as a graduate research assistant with both Matteo Ruggiu, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences, and Laura Schramm, Ph.D., Professor of Biological Sciences and Associate Dean for the Graduate Division of St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “I learned so much about cell culture and the fundamental concepts of disease research through Dr. Schramm because of her background in pharmacology,” said Chakraborty. “I also got an A in Biostatistics, which I’m sure landed me the interview with Siemens.”

Where did you work after graduation from St John’s?

Chakraborty graduated from SJU in January 2017 and immediately went on to a research internship at Villanova University. While there, she was recruited by a consulting firm for a year-long contract with Siemens. “I’ve developed an understanding of and confidence with how the corporate world functions,” she said.

 What are you doing now?

Now, Chakraborty is a biochemist on the assay development team of Siemens Healthineers, a divison of Siemens AG, working to develop chemical diagnostic tests for blood and urine analysis that help doctors detect disease. Specifically, her team designs how a machine analyzing blood or urines samples reports what is in or out of range.

“Working at Siemens is a wonderful experience,” said Chakraborty. “I get to work with industry veterans, and it is the opposite of the cold, corporate environment you might expect. Everyone works very hard, but we have fun, and there is a lot of inter-departmental collaboration. It’s also quite culturally diverse; I have colleagues from every country you could think of. I’m extremely happy with my job.”

What is a typical day like?

A typical day for Chakraborty entails first tidying up the lab and answering emails. Then, she meets with her research team to discuss the day’s project. For the rest of the day, she works independently in her lab analyzing data. “It’s a typical 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. workday,” said Chakraborty.

Chakraborty is happy in her current position, but hopes to eventually serve as a bridge between corporate and research worlds to develop better diagnostic products. Considering all that she’s accomplished so far, we are confident of her continued success.