Namita Dodwadkar: Senior Scientist and the First-Ever Mrs. India USA

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Namita Dodwadkar made history this year when she was crowned first-ever Mrs. India USA. Born and brought up in Pune, India, Dodwadkar came to the United States in 2007 for higher education and received MS and Ph.D. degrees from Northeastern University. Currently, she works as a Senior Scientist at Novartis where she focuses on research and development of anti-cancer medicines.

She has received two national awards and recognition so far: Mrs. India USA and American Association of Indian Pharmaceutical Scientists Research Award. Her motto is: “I want to make a difference” in every facet of her life. Through her research, she wants to cure cancer without side effects. Through dance, she wants to impart her skills and help as many people as possible to express themselves, and through Mrs. India USA 2014 title she wants to empower and encourage married women, as well as set an example for young girls, to continue to pursue their dreams and ambitions even after marriage.

INDIA New England News: Please tell our readers about your work and what you enjoy most about it?
Namita Dodwadkar: I got my Ph.D. degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences and currently work as a Senior Scientist at Novartis. My research there is focused on developing anti-cancer medicines. The best part of my research is that I am in a translational unit, where my work would directly translate into clinics. The feeling that •maybe what I develop today might end up on a patient’s bedside tomorrow’ keeps me excited about my work.

INE: To which charitable, community and professional group do you belong and why?
ND: I belong to the American Association of Indian Pharmaceutical Scientists group. Their work and research is dedicated towards betterment of society. It has a group of highly accomplished researchers in the field of cancer and there is a lot of inspiration to take from them. My goal is to give back to the society and being a part of this association takes me closer to my goal.

INE: What are your hobbies and interest?
ND: Modeling and dancing have always been my favorite hobbies. I am a trained Latin dance instructor. I absolutely enjoy teaching, choreographing and performing Bollywood dances. I truly believe that dancing is all about feeling the music and having fun with it. Maybe that’s why my best Bollywood and Latin dance performances till date are the ones that I performed with my husband. Apart from dancing, I also enjoy outdoor sports and activities such as cricket, badminton, throw-ball, F1 racing and zip-lining.

INE: In what way you feel you have most positively influenced or served the local community and your company/organization and professional field?
ND: After being crowned as the First Ever Mrs. India USA, I feel I was able to motivate a lot of women to continue to pursue their passions. Women have excelled in all fields and my constant efforts are to inspire them to continue the work even after marriage. Through my dedication for my ambitions, not just married women but I want to inspire and set an example for young girls as well. Being born and brought up in India, I am also actively working to motivate young girls who come to the US for education and woman who come here after marriage. My efforts are focused on spreading awareness that the local Indian community here is like •home away from home’ and there are equal opportunities for everyone.

For my research, I constantly strive to develop something novel. During Ph.D., I published several research papers to advance the cancer research. My work was recognized and I received several awards, including one national award and one northeast regional award. After graduating, I continued to work for cancer research companies to push the envelope further. Currently I am working on individualized cancer therapy. I feel that everyday is a step closer to success. I believe that my research not only has the potential to advance the cancer research field in general but also has a great potential to turn into a bedside medicine.

INE: Your rare talent?
ND: I seek positivity in every failure that I encounter. I feel being positive is the only way forward. My strong belief of overcoming the failure by learning from it, helps me see all failures as a success of learning what does not work.

INE: Your favorite book?
ND: I am Malala. It is a powerful personal story woven with history and politics. It is an inspirational tale of bravery, passion, women empowerment and human rights. This young girl reminds us to appreciate the things we take for granted in our daily life and to stand up for what we believe in!

INE: Your favorite quotes?
ND: I strongly believe in- “Everything happens for a reason” and “Waqt se pehle and kismet se jyada kisi ko kuch nai milta”. It is natural to get upset or stressed when you fail or make a mistake, but I have always believed that stumbling upon the little failures is just a setup for ultimate success.

INE: Who inspires you the most?
ND: My mother is my inspiration. She is everything I want to be- kind, compassionate and a confident woman. After my father, she raised my brother and I. She has always believed in •nothing is impossible’ and set an example for us to follow. Whenever I am faced with a difficulty, I think what my mother would have done in the same situation and things get easy for me.

INE: Your core value you try to live by?
ND: With time-management and multi-tasking you can give importance to all three aspects of life- family, career and hobbies. I feel it is necessary to have a good mix of all three. Everyone gets just 24hrs per day, what you do with them and how you use them makes you different!

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