Sunita Badola: Heading External Partnerships and Patient Data Strategy at Global Giant Takeda Pharmaceuticals

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Sunita Badola

BOSTON- A leader in the New England biotechnology and pharmaceuticals cluster, Sunita Badola is the Head of External Partnership and Patient Data Strategy, in the Global R&D Computational Biology group at Takeda Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge, MA.

She has a strong record of scientific innovation and building partnerships in drug discovery, translational research and data sciences with more than 22 years of experience in the biopharmaceutical industry. She has been leading external strategy of human data utilization across therapeutic areas and key diseases of focus such as Oncology. Ms. Badola has extensive experience in translational research, applied genomics, data infrastructure/analytics and establishing key partnerships for innovative technologies to advance clinical biomarker development.

A proponent of women’s empowerment in the workplace, Ms. Badola has also completed various women’s leadership programs from Babson College and WOMEN Unlimited “LEAD”. She is an active member of HBA (Healthcare Businesswomen Association) and WEST (Women in the Enterprise of Science and Technology). She completed an MS with research in Biochemistry in 1998, from the School of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) in Ohio. She earned her MSc in Biotechnology with a University Gold Medal from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee, India.

But Ms. Badola does not just utilize her drive and passion in her work. In the early days of the pandemic, she and her family helped support frontline workers and healthcare workers through creating and donating masks with the nonprofit Sew We Care. She has been a mainstay of many New England community organizations, such as EKAL, SETU, SEWA, SAC, Hindi Manch, RangManch and Uttarakhand Association.

On March 6, Ms. Badola will be honored as one of the 20 Outstanding Women of 2021 during the 18th Annual Woman of the Year Awards ceremony— to be held virtually this year. To buy a ticket, please click here.

A Q/A with Ms. Badola:

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

Sunita Badola: I am a scientific leader and coordinator of external strategy of human data utilization across therapeutic areas. I provide scientific/clinical expertise and education on big data as needed to key stakeholders at Takeda. I engage with the Center of External Innovation to identify novel platform ideas from academic investigators and develop de-risking strategies for Newco creation/in licensing.

Currently, I am leading the buildup of a pre-competitive consortium of the Exceptional Responder Network in collaboration with TGEN, Harvard and Dell. I am a part of the team that is involved in global search and evaluation for the early target discovery/genomics/human data sources and new technology platforms across the therapeutic area. I enjoy mentoring various mid-level pharma scientists globally and involved in women parity group at Takeda. I truly enjoy building partnerships with key experts to collaborate and drive science forward. My role allows me to be part of the team that is involved in reviewing the technology, platforms and data for its utility in drug discovery and development pipeline. I am passionate about bringing the right drug to the right patient and that involves constant learning from our patients who are part of the clinical trials. I enjoy bringing the translational thinking, tools and resources to our teams. I also enjoyed leading and implementing the educational program “Your Genome: The Lens for Understanding Precision Medicine” in collaboration with Harvard university and Genomes 2 People at Takeda which has been running this program for last 4 years.

INE: If you’re engaged with any charity or non-profit, please tell us why this group and what do you do for them?

SB: My family and I are actively involved in many New England Indian community associations including Sew We care, EKAL, SETU, SEWA, SAC, Hindi Manch, RangManch and Uttarakhand Association. I was sewing cloth face masks and surgical caps throughout the spring and summer of 2020 to help support senior centers and the frontline workers through Sew We care. As a family we truly believe in the mission of EKAL and are ardent supporter of EKAL. Both my daughters have done fundraising by offering classes/workshops and I provide support through the outreach for enrollment.

INE: What are your hobbies and interests?

SB: I love travelling, cooking and gardening. I feel that travelling and going to new places gives you new perspectives and opens your eyes to the wonderful world. Trying new recipes allows me to constantly look for healthier alternatives and explore new cuisines. Gardening teaches me patience and is a great activity for both mind and body.

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

SB: I look for opportunities to help others by volunteering my time, resources and funds. I have utilized the passion and talent of my daughters to help fundraise for various causes in New England area. I am a great connector and influencer and make things happen. During the pandemic, I made masks and surgical caps for Sew we care. Because of the work commitments masks and caps were made during evenings and the weekends. It was very fulfilling to see the frontline workers wearing our masks and surgical caps and sharing pictures with us.

I always strive for success by staying motivated and keep one goal in mind at work that is helping patients by making better medicines. I was the winner for the 2018 Takeda Oncology Innovation Award. The award considers four major criteria during the selection process, exploiting expertise, building capabilities, advancing the reputation, displaying the entrepreneurial spirit along with the focus of making a difference in patients’ life. I won the award for leading the project “Building a Network of Enigmatic Exceptional Responders (NEER) to Learn and Test Hypotheses from the Miracle Patients”. The goal of this project is to enable and conduct the systematic study of exceptional responders by establishing a registry and a research data network containing the molecular profiling, phenotypic, family history, lifestyle, environmental exposures and clinical records of cancer patients. This project is recognized and supported by Takeda leadership and now I am working with external partners to build a pre-competitive consortium called PARES. The goal of the Pharmaceutical and Academic Registry of

Exceptional Response and Survival (PARES) consortium is similar to NEER but at a much larger scale.

INE: Your rare talent?

SB: I am a gym rat and always made sure to incorporate 1 hour of exercise daily.

INE: Your favorite books?

SB: “The Art of Strategic Leadership” by Stowell Steven J., Mead Stephanie S

“Mindset” by Carol Dweck

“Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert

INE: Your favorite quotes?

SB: “If you are always trying to be normal you will never know how amazing you can be” Maya Angelou

“The Only Limit To Our Realization Of Tomorrow Will Be Our Doubts Of Today.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Jump and the net will appear.” –Mick Ebeling

INE: Who inspires you the most?

SB: People who bring energy, enthusiasm and motivation to make a positive contribution to the world. One such person that I find highly inspirational is Eleanor Roosevelt. She was a role model for many women at the time when women rarely took such roles in the society. She helped draft the United Nations declaration of human rights and strived to improve civil rights in US.

INE: Your core value you try to live by?

SB: I try to live with the core values of passion, optimism, respect and humility. Being optimistic allows you to move forward in any circumstances. Respect is the most important value in any relationship as it brings trust, acceptance and well-being. Humility keeps us grounded and connected to our roots.

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