WALTHAM, MA- Namita Dodwadkar is a senior scientist at GreenLight Biosciences. In 2016, she was crowned as the world’s first ever Mrs. India Worldwide. In 2015, she held the title of first ever Mrs. India USA.
“I feel humbled to have created history twice, once at the National level beauty pageant and then at International level, by being crowned as the First Mrs. India USA and then First Mrs. India Worldwide,” says Dodwadkar. “It was an honor for me to represent USA on an International level and win the crown.”
Born and brought up in Pune, India, Dodwadkar came to the US in 2007 for higher education. Received her MS and Ph.D. degrees from Northeastern University. The focus of her research has mainly been to develop drug delivery systems for the treatment of cancer and recently she broadened her research to zika and malaria as well. After working for Novartis for 2 years, Dodwadkar recently joined GreenLight Biosciences as a Senior Scientist.
INDIA New England News: Please tell our readers about your work and what you enjoy most about it?
Namita Dodwadkar: Being a scientist, I believe that powerful research has the potential to eradicate deadly diseases like cancer, zika virus and malaria. Every day I go in to work with the motivation of taking one step closer towards this ultimate goal. My specialization is in developing novel drug delivery systems that could be used for any disease of interest. I strongly feel about working towards curing cancer and hence I have been working towards anti-cancer treatment for 10 years now. At Novartis, my work was closer to the cancer patients. Based on our work, Novartis recently filed for first CAR-T cell therapy BLA (Biologics License Application) for pediatric and young adult cancer patients. This filing in itself is a revolution in cancer treatment and for me personally a step closer to my own goal of eradicating the disease.
INE: To which charitable, community and professional group do you belong and why?
ND: I belong to the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) group. This is a group of highly accomplished researchers with work dedicated towards betterment of society. Along with learning from the highly-reputed scientists, this group has given me opportunities to give back to the community. As the Treasurer of AAPS Northeastern Student Chapter, I was involved in inviting prominent personalities in cancer research to motivate, inspire and share their wisdom with graduate students. In 2011, I was honored by AAiPS (American Association of Indian Pharmaceutical Scientists) with a National Award for my cancer research.
I also belong to Worldwide Pageants. As the reigning Mrs. India Worldwide, I take a great deal of responsibility towards women empowerment and inspiring married women. Worldwide Pageants has given me the opportunity to travel to various places (MA, NY, NJ, MI, Guadeloupe, etc) to give talks and through my example, inspire other married women to follow their dreams.
When I was young, I have heard things like- do this now because after marriage you won’t be able to do it. Through my example of breaking that stereotype, I motivate young girls and inspire married women that marriage is not an end but just a new beginning
INE: What are your hobbies and interests?
ND: Let me start with my recently found interest- Acting. I had never thought that someday this will add to the list but life is unpredictable and I am more than happy with this change! Acting has now become a part of my life! Currently I have 1 National and 2 regional commercials running on TV. I have worked with brands like CVS, Dunkin Donuts, Santander Bank, etc. That being said, I still am actively involved in dancing and modeling. Along with teaching bollywood, advanced salsa and advanced bachata, I have now started catwalk training for pageant contestants.
INE: In what way do you feel you have positively influenced or served the local community and your company/organization and professional field?
ND: Sometimes people are afraid to be the first one! There are so many stereotypes created by the society. My personal enemies were- (a) Beauty with no brains (b) After marriage you cannot pursue your career (c) After marriage you cannot continue with your hobbies especially if they are acting/modeling (d) Girls who come to US for higher education can never make it big in US. Along with holding an International beauty pageant title, I also hold my Ph.D. degree with equal pride. Along with National/ International beauty titles I have been awarded National award for my research. I take pride in acting/modeling along with teaching dance and doing a full-time research job as a Senior Scientist. By breaking these stereotypes, I believe I have carved a path for others to follow.
For my research, I constantly strive to develop novel drug delivery systems without side effects. I have published several research papers to advance cancer research. My work was recognized and I received several awards, including one national award and one northeast regional award. My constant efforts are towards the ultimate goal of eradicating deadly diseases. As a dance instructor, I help people to express themselves. I have been teaching Bollywood, advanced Salsa and advanced Bachata for more than 5 years. Last year I started training contestants for pageants (Catwalk training). Personally, being trained by Bollywood celebrity Alecia Raut, I share that knowledge here locally. There is no better feeling than helping someone to fulfil their dreams.
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 books?
ND: “I am Malala” by Malala Yousafzai. It is a powerful inspirational tale of bravery, passion, women empowerment and human rights. It 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 never lose. I either win or I learn”- Nelson Mandela
“Everything happens for a reason…” – Marilyn Monroe
INE: Who inspires you the most?
ND: My mother. As a child, I have seen her strength as a single parent raising 2 children. When I grew up, she showed me what courage was when she let me, one of her 2 beloved assets, leave the country and come to US for higher education. She taught me that passions have no age-limit when she participated in Super moms dance competition in the “above 60” category. These were just a few examples, but at every step she has set an example for me showing that a woman can achieve anything and everything once she sets her mind to it!
INE: The one person you would like to meet and why?
ND: I would like to meet Anupam Kher Sir again. I had the honor of taking acting lessons with him. He has a plethora of knowledge. Despite his celebrity status, he is a very humble and modest human being. It is an actor’s dream to get trained by the best and it would be my honor to continue the training with Anupam Kher Sir.
INE: Your core value you try to live by?
ND: Keep doing your job, because GOD helps those who help themselves. With multiple passions (all in different fields) I try to give my 100% in whatever I do. Not all passions can be achieved at the same time but when I am concentrating on one; I give my heart, my soul to it and leave the rest to GOD. It is not important how many times you fail, what is important is how you rise from those failures and move forward.