Please tell us about yourself

Vijay Kale took an ocean-sized leap of faith when he decided to move from Maharashtra, India to Hershey, Pennsylvania. He knew it was a big risk to leave his job and family, but Vijay felt he could do more in the drug industry with a doctoral degree.

Penn State Hershey provided the right fit in molecular toxicology, and an alumni scholarship, travel award, and student achievement award have helped him secure essential funding along the way.

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Four years later, Vijay is thrilled to report that his lab has developed a molecule, DJ4, that inhibits the migration and invasion of multiple cancer cell lines. “If we can stop the cells from metastasizing, we can probably treat cancer cells locally,” he says. “The key is to stop the spreading.”

Tell us about your work

Dr. Vijaykumar (Vijay) Kale is working to bring better and safer drugs to market. His long-term goal is to find methods that make pre-clinical toxicology work more efficient and accurate for drug developers.

“When a drug fails in human trials it’s very expensive,” he explains. “Finding better biomarkers to enhance the predictability of in vitro research and pre-clinical trials would save tremendous time and effort and allow them to focus on therapies that have a greater chance of success.”

How does your work benefit the community?

Vijay joined Battelle in September 2015 as a Principal Research Scientist on the Battelle Toxicology team. He brings more than six years of experience as a Study Director in non-clinical drug safety evaluation of small molecules and biopharmaceuticals. His experience includes safety evaluation work for Lipaglyn, a drug used for treating diabetic dyslipidemia or hypertriglyceridemia, and VaxiFlu-S, India’s first H1N1 vaccine—both now on the market. He has extensive experience designing and conducting both in vitro and in vivo toxicology studies for pre-clinical trials of small molecule and biopharmaceutical drug candidates. Some of his current work is part of the National Toxicology Program, a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services effort to find better ways to identify and predict the mechanisms that cause adverse reactions to drugs and other chemicals.

“We need to find more and better biomarkers that allow us to predict adverse reactions before going to clinical trials. For example, we still need better predictive biomarkers to identify drug-induced liver and cardiac toxicity, the major causes of drug failure in late clinical trials,” Vijay says. He believes that greater use of comparative genomics and proteomics data, as well as systemic approaches using network signaling, will soon allow the industry to better understand and predict adverse effects of novel drugs before going to expensive clinical trials.

What did you study?

Vijay earned his PhD from Pennsylvania State University, where he conducted research on early development of a novel anticancer molecule that selectively targets multiple pathways to prevent cancer from spreading to other organs (metastasis). He holds a Masters in Veterinary Pathology from S.D. Agricultural University in Gujarat, India and a Bachelor of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry (equivalent to a U.S. Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree) from Bombay Veterinary College, India. He is Board Certified by the American Board of Toxicology.