Madhavi Muranjan is a repeat InnoCentive Solver. With a background in biotech, Madhavi is able to further put to use her skillset and unique viewpoints. The following is a discussion on what brought Madhavi to InnoCentive and what participating in Challenges means to her.
I was born and brought up in India. I am creative and curious by nature. This and the desire to alleviate human suffering due to infectious epidemics like malaria and sleeping sickness is what drove me towards my Ph.D. in molecular microbiology from the Ohio State University. While the passion for science was a combination of wanting to impact betterment of humanity and an insane desire to “crack the puzzle” that was my Ph.D. project, I was blessed with the mentorship of Dr. Samuel James Black, a brilliant scientist and thinker. He encouraged all the creativity and imagination in me, and taught me to harness it towards science. Then I was again very lucky to work with Dr. Victor Nussenzweig at NYU Medical Center for my first post-doc. He inspired me with his quickness of mind and mastery of science. There is no greater thrill in the “chase”, the mystery solving and the detective work than you get out of challenges mother nature puts out for us all, and that feeling of solving her challenges I wouldn’t trade for anything else.
Following a post-doc at Johns Hopkins in malaria, I entered biotech industry as a senior scientist for a startup company, later as a principal scientist at a biosimilars company, and at an innovator antibodies company, where I learnt much about developing and operation of science from conception to clinical trial and gaining regulatory approval. However, opportunities for creativity and problem solving in major corporate are limited. So, InnoCentive came to the rescue- in July 2009 I discovered this great site via nature.com. My biotech exposure made me particularly sympathetic to patients who suffered the lethal PML disease as an adverse effect of an otherwise efficacious antibody. A company wanted an animal model for PML; a successful approach would have strong preclinical and clinical impact. To my surprise the idea I proposed was recognized and awarded.
It is very satisfying to study and understand new problems, even more to think of a possible solution, and the best to not only get a prize in return, but to know that your idea may actually be the one to solve a major global problem. My greatest reward from InnoCentive is the solving of three biomedical challenges- the satisfaction of a job well done far surpasses any job one may hold. InnoCentive is the most facile, productive and transparent open innovation company to launch fertile ideas and help not only widely diverse industries and businesses, but finally humanity at large. I only wish Innocentive would publish the idea that finally worked “ in the field”, even if it is some years after reduction to practice.
You don’t have to have the technical background or training for solving some of the Innocentive challenges. All you need is to try your brain at something new with the zeal to learn and apply, and the awareness that it may generate intellectual property that would resolve a serious problem. The best part is that you don’t need to have a complete cast-iron idea; suggestion of incipient ideas flowing in the right direction can be just as valuable for future evolution.