Please tell us about yourself
Dr. Ritu Trivedi is a molecular biologist researching on chronic diseases such as osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, and obesity at Central Drug Research Institute as a Senior Scientist. She shared her real views about the current problems and actions need to be implemented to empower women in science and research.
What did you study?
I did my Ph.D. from Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGIMS) Lucknow in Endocrinology. After that, I moved to the US at National Institute of Health (NIH) Bethesda, for a post-doc in developmental biology. Came back to India and joined as a scientist at Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI) in the Endocrinology Division in 2004. I work in CDRI in the area of Metabolic Bone Disorders. Have published more than 80 publications in peer-reviewed journals with 12 Patents Out of these two have been commercialized and one drug by the name REUNION for rapid fracture healing is in the market.
Please tell us about your work
My research program addresses the problems related to bone health specifically osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, and obesity. The primary focus is to study the inter-relationship of declining sex steroid levels in aging women and men leading to bone loss. We also examine the effects of obesity in growing children and adults that in our studies has shown to affect the growing skeleton adversely. Our studies show that both declining sex steroids and obesity predisposes one to higher fracture risk and osteoarthritic effects. We elucidate the reasons for these results complimented with animal studies and basic bone biology tools examining bone (osteoblast), fat (adipocyte) and cartilage cells at specific stages of their growth. Our studies represent the leading edge in bone biology research, especially for Indian women.
BS: Who has inspired you in your life and why?
RT: Inspiration has been a number of people. Firstly, it has been my mother; I remember that since a very young age, my mother made sure to tell me about the plight of women and awareness about women issues. Some magazines covered women stories, and sometimes the stories in them about women were atrocious. Now I understand why she made me do this. Through these stories, she made sure to ingrain in me the importance of being a strong and independent woman. You can get out of many of these problems if you are independent.
Later in life, a fortunate independent woman who was at the peak of her career and in a responsible position in the institute where I was doing my Ph.D. has inspired me. Science like many others is a man dominated the profession. I learned from her the importance of knowing one’s craft very well especially in the area that you work so that people (men) listen to you. My mentor who is a pleased free-spirited soul, a good scientist and an ever-helping person is a constant source of inspiration. He trusted me and gave me space both personally and professionally when I very much need it.
BS: Do you recall what started your enthusiasm for science & research?
RT: As a child, I have grown up in the scientific environment and have imbibed many things while growing up as both my parents are from the science background. She also tells me that at a very young age I use to carry my father’s big fat chemistry book and say that I will read this and be a teacher like him. So, the fact that this enthusiasm for science and research is genetic in my case cannot be ruled out.
BS: What excites you the most about your scientific research?
RT: I do translational research; therefore, the idea that what is being done in the lab if adequately pursued has the possibility of being translated to be in the market for the humankind is overwhelming. This not only keeps you excited but also drives to work at a faster pace.
BS: What gets you genuinely excited about Scientific life without getting bored?
RT: Scientific life is not at all boring. It not only entails doing experiments but involves a lot of administrative and managerial work. We meet a lot of people who work in or even out of the area that you work to build healthy collaborations that if productive are very helpful. Building good partnerships is an art that we learn with experience. Regarding experiments there is constant racking of brain to how to carry out a particular investigation or solve a scientific problem, this keeps you always motivated. It is interesting that most of the times one faces a new challenge. This leaves no chance of getting bored.
BS: How do you manage to achieve success as women scientist in India?
RT: I just enjoy what I do and not necessarily think of success all the time. Victory in itself is a very relative term, and its perspective varies from person to person.
BS: Are there any unforgettable moments of your career?
RT: Yes, very recently in 2015 a drug from my lab has come out. Derived from the leaves of the tree Dalbergia sissoo is commonly known as Shisham. This is a prescription drug for rapid fracture healing. The day 10th April 2015 the technology was transferred, and then it was launched in the market after the clinical trials, was the most unforgettable and gratifying moment for me. The drug is by the name of REUNION and is now in the market Pan India. I have also made an 8-min. Documentary of our findings is watched with the following link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N60OQheSWUk&t=123s. I am currently looking forward to the data from the post-menopausal clinical trial so that more and more women can benefit from REUNION. This is a teamwork and to be able to bring lab research into the market is very gratifying for me.
BS: Top 3 tips you follow as scientists to keep focused and motivated?
RT: I think sincerity and perseverance for the work you do and the rest just follows.
BS: If you had to choose one thing, what do you think you’re the best in the world at other than research?
RT: I don’t know. Probably not in the world but have heard that I have excellent communication skills.
BS: Any recent read or discovery in your field of interest that you admire most?
RT: A next-generation genome editing system CRISPR is something scientists will look forward. CRISPR is a revolution that has swept biology so swiftly than any other findings.