Saraswathy Nochur: Building a World-Class Global Regulatory Affairs Team at Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, and Aiming for Seva

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Saraswathi Nochur

NEWTON, MA–Saraswathy (Sara) Nochur is Chief Regulatory Officer, Regulatory Affairs at Alnylam Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge, MA, where she has worked for over 12 years.  She has been in the biotechnology industry since 1989, soon after she graduated with a Ph.D. in Biochemical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Over the years, Ms. Nochur has built a world-class global Regulatory Affairs team at Alnylam, leading to the approval in 2018 of the first ever RNA interference therapeutic by both FDA and EMA.  She is also an executive co-sponsor of the Diversity and Inclusion initiative at Alnylam.

Ms. Nochur has been an organizing committee member of the DIA/FDA Oligonucleotide-Based Therapeutics conference over the past decade and has spoken at several forums on regulatory and drug development related topics.  She has been a mentor to several young professionals in the biotechnology industry, including as part of the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association.  She is on the Board of Hospitality Homes, a non-profit organization that provides free housing for patients and their families when they come to hospitals in the Boston area.  She is also a member of the Advisory Board of Women in the Enterprise of Science & Technology (WEST).

Here is a Q/A with Ms. Nochur:

INDIA New England News: Please tell our readers about your work and what you enjoy most about it? 

Saraswathy Nochur: At Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, I work with teams to provide strategic and tactical input to enable global regulatory approval for our RNA interference (RNAi) therapeutics, a novel class of innovative medicines based on nobel-prize winning science.

We got our very first RNAi drug approved in US and EU in 2018.  My work is very rewarding as we bring innovative medicines to patients in need.

INE:  To what charitable, community and professional groups do you belong and why?

SN: Patients and caregivers come from all over the world to seek medical help in Boston and often cannot afford the steep costs of staying in hotels. My husband Kumar and I have been volunteer-hosts since 2003 with a non-profit Boston-based organization called Hospitality Homes, which provides patients and caregivers homes free of charge when they come for treatments.

I am also a board member of this organization since early this year.  In addition, Kumar and I are also volunteer-organizers for a non-profit organization based in India called All India Movement (AIM) for Seva, that provides free homes (chatralayas) for children in rural and tribal India to enable them to stay in school and graduate.

Along with many other volunteers, over the past 6 years, the Boston chapter of AIM for Seva has raised $100,000 each year to help these children; our annual fundraiser this year is on 22 Sept. at Regis College in Weston, MA.

INE: What are your hobbies and interests?

SN: I love to read, teach, travel, cook, and be with family and friends.

INE: In what way you feel you have most positively influenced or served the local community or your company/organization and professional field? 

SN: I have been at Alnylam for 13 years and have helped bring an entirely new class of medicines to patients; this has been very rewarding.  Related to what I do at Alnylam, caring for patients is a priority; our hosting of families in need when they come for treatment to Boston through hospitality homes has also been a reminder of how grateful we all need to be for what we have.

We value education; helping children in rural and tribal India stay in school and go on to higher studies, with many going back to their villages to help their families, is also very fulfilling.

INE: What is the most pressing issue that you believe women are facing today? 

SN: The glass ceiling continues to exist

INE: What is your rare talent that people don’t know about?

SN: Not sure I have one.

INE: What are your favorite books?

SN: There are several authors I enjoy, including fiction (O’Henry, Toni Morrison, PG Wodehouse), science (Siddhartha Mukherjee, Abraham Varghese, Rebecca Skloot) and Hindu Vedantic philosophy (by several Swamijis, and of course, the book by my husband, Kumar Sharma)

INE: What are your favorite quotes that motivate you or make you smile?

SN: “Where ever you go, there you are!”

INE: Who inspires you the most?

SN: A child

INE: Who is the one person you would like to meet and why?

SN: Einstein; he was a remarkable man.

INE: What are your core values that you try to live by?

SN: Living a dharmic life of harmony, grace and gratefulness.

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