Category Archives: Interviews

Experiences of a rookie Field Based Medical Advisor (FBMA) | Guest Blog

From Pharmacology to FBMA: The Twisted Journey

A scene I come across almost every time after the exchange of basic pleasantries in a flight during a business trip!

Stranger: Hey! what do you do?

Me: I am a doctor! 

Stranger (with awe and respect): Oh great! So what do you specialize in?

Me: I am a Pharmacologist

Stranger: What is that???

Stranger (now with confusion): Do you work in a chemist shop? 

When this kind of a question comes from a person of a non-medical background, it seems very hard to explain, but fair enough. It doesn’t really hurt. But then there are days when this stranger, despite being from a similar background will stare at you as if ‘how can you call yourself a doctor? You don’t even see patients!’

So, this is my life. I completed my MD last year in the field of Pharmacology. Now it may come as a surprise to many people that I chose this subject over my available options of choosing a medical/surgical or so-called the clinical fields. But why would I ever do that? Who will ever choose pharmacology or for that matter any para-clinical or a preclinical field by choice? It is always taken up when there are no choices left!! After all, growing up, the image of a doctor has always been that of seeing patients. And I can say that now, after being in the industry, it is easy to argue a concept or an understanding or even a choice, but it Is hard to change the inherent beliefs. So, it wasn’t easy taking up a subject and telling the world, that yes I wanted to be a doctor and I even am, but I don’t want to see patients

Now the PG days, being a student, in this field are really not very interesting. I don’t know about others, but mine was mostly regular, very boring 9 to 5 college days where you read, take classes and just mind your own business. But, God was kind and I still had an awesome hostel life to look forward to, every day.

So in the hospital, when I used to accidentally bump into a batchmate, the first question used to be ‘ what are you doing in the hospital?’  And to be truthful, the only time I used to go there was while working on my thesis, doing audits, collecting ADRs or simply having coffee. All these words are not exactly what someone would call interesting, unless obviously, one understands the gravity of these small tasks, which to be very frank, as of now, still seems way too far ahead of us.  While I worked on my thesis, my clinical batch mates used to envy me. Because I was never tired, never a person dreading a 24-hour duty, never missing out on a holiday. I always had my plans ready, mapped out for the entire month.

In our department, we had the usual stuff. By usual I mean, when people don’t want to do much work, people who take this subject to have a chilled out life and like to gossip. But to give enough credit to my college, I was fortunate that we used to have plenty of seminars and journal clubs. Now when I look back and think of the way I critically appraised the journal articles, it seems very childish. But they laid the very foundation of where I never knew my life was going to start.

So, now we come to the advantage of being a pharmacologist. At the end of 3 years, when people were searching for jobs, I already had one in my hand, even before my exams. Fortunately, there are plenty of jobs available for a pharmacologist. The question is what all? Well, there is a whole spectrum of jobs that one can take (which is beyond the scope of my current topic of discussion), though most easily available and the toughest among them is that of a field-based medical advisor (FBMA). So, yes, I became one too!

Here is the beginning of a journey which is poles apart from that of a post-graduate life. Why so? because technically, the job profile of an FBMA isn’t exactly structured in our country. It sounds glorious when you enter with huge hopes in the industry and you are told that you have to handle an entire region by yourself. But simply put, you just do what is the need of the hour in your area as per the requirement of your sales colleagues or as decided by the marketing team. This can be a full range of things, from waiting outside a chamber for hours doing nothing to just getting on stage to introduce to the speakers, to being a ghost writer or just sitting and preparing slides for which you will never get the credit and then occasionally conducting small-scale meetings. This added to the fact that one doesn’t have a fixed routine and plus one has to travel to really small places sometimes, can be frustrating. It won’t be wrong when I say, that I get more emergencies than my father. Sometimes, the doctor gets a doubt suddenly just before a meeting, sometimes a slide set or an article is needed within 24 hours. Whatever be it, I have to be available, always.

These feelings will be echoed by many people in the same field. They are right too. So there came a time when I had to tell someone what this job means to me. To be very fair, this is just my perception on the take of things and anyone may agree to disagree.

It has been one and a half year since I have worked as an FBMA and  I know how much I have grown in terms of my knowledge and as a person.

When I started with my induction, I had to learn everything about the molecule and the disease in a month! This along, with the working formats of any corporate, like using outlook, was a huge challenge for a person like me. I found it next to impossible, but I tried my best. With the help of my Head office based colleagues and an excellent mentor I would say, I managed fairly well. That was the first time I realized how much I am capable of pushing myself at every stage in life. After PG entrances, this was the first time I did it again.

After my induction (which was not even a full month), I came back to handle my region. New people, new faces and with no clue what is the next step, I felt like I had been thrown into the turbulent waters without a life jacket. So here was where I started fighting my battles, which are invisible to the outside world

The simplest and the most important role of an FBMA is to conduct meetings to discuss the scientific data on the relevant subject and molecules in question in an unbiased manner. So, I was naturally very frightened and nervous during my first meeting, wondering what questions will be thrown at me. But when I finally spoke in front of the doctors, most of them actually did not bother listening. This was my first battle. To figure out how to make people listen. Trust me, I have been trying to decode the formula since then, but at least, I knew where to work on myself now. This is when I learnt and concentrated on the art of presenting. Somehow I never bothered about it in college. But here it mattered! I read many books, I learnt a lot. So when people say that why are  FBMAs only taking small meetings, I am happy to say that it is needed. It is always better to start from basics and learn along the way. So then why do clinicians get to talk at big meetings? Because they also started from stage zero! We just weren’t there to witness it.  At that point, they were new too! Today at whatever stage they are, it is either because they have their experience visible as grey hair or they have the power to influence or capture the audience. They may not be good with statistics, but they are good with science!

I can be there too! Not today, but someday! There is enough for everyone in this world.  So, I learnt that insecurity about how small your work is just a mirror image of how small your thought process is. Gradually my meetings improved and I liked them more. They are still not perfect, but I am walking down that path, every day.

Then came the most dreadful part, the field visits! Imagine being a doctor and waiting outside another doctor’s office for hours with your sales colleagues and then your batch mate passes by and gives that derogatory look that says ‘you have to sit like a medical representative! see this is the difference between a real doctor and you’.  Strangely, I am a tough nut to crack, so it never bothered me. I have spent those hours, teaching science to my colleagues and learning sales tactics from them in return. For all what we may say, the world is run by sales, which may appear harsh but it is true. I learnt how my colleagues deal with things when they go wrong with customers, when the competition grows and when targets need to be reached. I realized I was happy, not being in their place. So, I learnt humility and I felt blessed.

Inside the chambers, my experiences have been widely different. Some people have been kind and really fair and insightful, some haven’t bothered much to talk. This was the first time I learnt how many types of people there can be! I listened to their version of current scenario of the medical profession, of the fears of litigation, of the over-hyped trials by media. There again, came the feeling, I felt blessed! I didn’t want to be on the other side of the table. I got reminded of a very simple saying which I had learnt from my childhood days ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’. So, I am not a person who feels that I ever made the wrong decision.

Apart from meetings or field visits, how else do I spend my time? After all, I don’t have an office to go to every day. So I may as well sleep till late and enjoy. That’s what the world would like to believe. I can’t keep an account of how many queries I answer, how much time I spend running here and there, or how much time I spend planning my month, just to see it get devastated by some new thing that might come up. But this is what a true test is! Isn’t it?  Push yourself every day because you love the work, without the need of incentives or any acknowledgements.  Be persistent, learn to adapt, face new challenges every day and be patient when things go wrong.

One year back, the doctors didn’t know me by my name. Today, they call me directly. They want me to present. They discuss cases. It may seem like a petty thing for a third person. But I feel like I make a difference. I matter.

In a money-driven industry, where science is hard to sell, this evolutionary role of a medical advisor may just be the foundation of a changing health industry. Criticizing a role, a job or any subject is way too easy, what is tough, is having the knack to learn from what you have at every step in your life. From a ‘Field Based Medical Advisor’  to an imperative role of being the ‘Fundamental basis of Medical affairs’; You are what you believe yourself to be’ – Paulo Coelho

Do you have a story to be shared with the world, but need to be anonymous, then write to us at

8+ Exclusive | Interview with Dr.Madhura Naik

MD Pharmacology graduates can now add one more option for their higher education, apart from joining DM/DNB Clinical Pharmacology or PhD or pursuing a MSc/PG.Dip in foreign universities. Department of Clinical Pharmacology, Tata Memorial Centre Advanced Centre for Treatment, Research and Education in Cancer (TMC-ACTREC) has started a one year fellowship program in Oncotherapeutics.


TMC is an autonomous grant-in-aid institution of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), Government of India.

ACTREC is the state-of-the-art R&D satellite of the Tata Memorial Centre (TMC), which also includes under its umbrella the Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH), the largest cancer hospital in Asia. ACTREC has the mandate to function as a national centre for treatment, research and education in cancer. congratulates Dr.Madhura Naik on joining as the first fellow in Oncotherapeutics at TMC-ACTREC. We are happy to have her interviewed. Read what she has told us about this program.

What is this Oncotherapeutic fellowship?

It’s a one-year fellowship program by the Dept. of Clinical Pharmacology held at Tata Memorial Centre- ACTREC, Navi Mumbai for a period of 1 year. This is the first year that they have started the fellowship.

How did you come to know about this? Did “Mumbai Edge” help you in this regard?

I got to know through a colleague on whatsapp first then from the Tata website

Explain the application and selection process.

The application process was online after which candidates were approx. 70 candidates were screened. We had to answer a MCQ exam after which 10 candidates were shortlisted for the interview. The interview was held by a panel comprising clinical pharmacologists, basic researcher and medical oncologist,after which 1 candidate was chosen for the fellowship.

What’s your job profile during the fellowship tenure? How much is your stipend?

The fellowship is actually a fluid program. One can get involved in any of the studies/projects carried out at the department. Here there are multiple research studies in both the preclinical and clinical research areas. ACTREC has a specialized Phase 1 trial unit and multiple trials are ongoing here. The medical management of the trial patients, dosing, monitoring and reporting of ADRs has to be done on a regular basis. Other than clinical trials, there are also teaching responsibilities and opportunity to conduct research studies independently.

  • The stipend is Rs.65,000 per month.

With many medical pharmacologists hunting for jobs at academia or industry or joining DM Clinical Pharmacology, you have decided to join this program. What made you to do so?

I had an interest in oncology drug discovery and development. When I heard about the fellowship I jumped at the opportunity since this is what I always wanted to get involved with.

The common thought process for many MD Pharmacology graduates will be to work abroad. What prospects does this program have for those aspirants?

It may seem enticing as an idea but one has to look at the actual opportunity. Though I know that may people post their training period here have been successful in joining PhD programs in the USA.

Does this give you any edge over your fellow pharmacologists by any means?

I believe that more importantly, it will give me the necessary skill set to further my career in oncology drug development.

After finishing this fellowship, where will you be placed?

I am still figuring this out. It really depends on how I use the 1 year given to me. I would ideally like to get a thorough understanding of all the processes involved in oncology research and then keep my mind open towards opportunities arising in academia or industry.

Does any other hospital or institute offer similar fellowship programs?

To my knowledge, no.

Is this fellowship exclusive to MD pharmacologists?

MD Pharmacologists a well as Pharm D candidates can apply.

Where do you see yourself in future?

I would like to work as a part of an enterprising team of a pharmaceutical company focusing on developing innovative therapies for cancer.

Any suggestions for the MD postgraduate students?

After joining the institute here, I have realized the importance of MD Pharmacologists in drug development. Since we have the right mix of medical acumen and drug therapy knowledge, we can make our presence felt. It is important to focus on developing the right skills in whichever area we are interested in – whether it is pre-clinical research, clinical drug development, regulatory affairs or drug safety/pharmacovigilance.


Dr. Madhura Naik had completed her MBBS from Pad.D.Y.Patil Medical College, Nerul and MD Pharmacology from TNMC Medical College and Nair hospital, Mumbai.  She is kind of a person who focuses on innovation and believes in the maxim -“The only thing that’s constant is change“. Her eagerness to learn and read is not limited to medicine. She loves music, travel and sampling coffees from all over the world.



4+ Exclusive Interview with Dr.Sandeep Kumar Gupta | Honorary Member of COE at TISS:SVE

First of all, we extend our warm wishes to you on being appointed as an honorary member of Centre of Excellence (COE) in the Pharmaceutical Vertical at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) for School of Vocational Education (SVE).

Few words abouts yourself for our readers.

I am a medical pharmacologist with approximately 8 years of experience in both academics and industry. I received my MD (Pharmacology) from RIMS, Ranchi in 2007 and worked at Ranbaxy Research Lab (Gurgaon, India) as a Senior Research Scientist and in Sanofi as Regional Medical Advisor for approximately 5 years. I am currently working as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacology in DSMCH, Permabalur (Tamilnadu, India). I have published about 15 papers in peer-reviewed and Pubmed-indexed journals. I have also written chapters in books titled Fundamentals of Clinical Trial & Research (Paras Publication), Molecular Vaccines: From Prophylaxis to Therapy-Volume 2 (Springer Publication) and Advances in collating and using trial data (Future Publication).

Please tell us what is TISS-VoE and its role.

In December 2011, Tata Institute of Social Sciences has set up the School of Vocational Education (SVE) to provide immediate and definite interventions to improve the lives of the disadvantaged and marginalized youth, especially who are excluded by the formal school education system,through appropriate vocational training programmes. The training program would be inclusive in nature and structured in a way to facilitate vertical movement of the organized and disorganized labour and facilitate the participation of women, children, the PWD and other vulnerable groups. Therefore, SVE has been set up with a vision of creating an ecosystem that would bring back the dignity of labour for blue collar streams of work and create sustainable sources of income for the marginalized youth in the country. The School has been incorporated to spearhead the Vocational Training envisaged in the initiative proposed by the Ministry of HRD, Government of India whereby TISS has been selected as nodal point to implement the said initiative.

What is Centre of Excellence (COE) and the responsibilities of its members?

The CoE is a group of well networked field experts from Industries and academicians. TISS- SVE will form CoE for each vertical to vet content and pedagogy. CoE shall also benchmark skill levels with global standards and shall access new and emerging skills through linkages with overseas industry partners and training institutions.

The CoE Members would be responsible to:
· Provide guidance and direction to vocational education in a sector.
· Approve the detailed syllabus content for a particular course.
· Interview & approve appointment of Examination Board members
· Interview & approval interview of trainers

Please tell us about your journey as being appointed as an honorary member of COE, your contribution to TISS-SVE and your future roles and responsibilities as an individual.

Pharmacology has always been a passion for me. Since the day I opted for Pharmacology as my post-graduate specialization, my attitude has been of a life-long learner. Whatever I learned during my 5 year stint in the industry, I am trying to give it back to the society as a faculty in the Pharmacology Dept at DSMCH, Perambalur. Now with my association with COE (Center of Excellence) at TISS-SVE, I would be providing guidance and direction to vocational education in the pharmaceutical vertical. The focus would be on enhancing job skills of marginalized youth through vocational training programmes.

Being a medical pharmacologists in what way your field of expertise can be a useful one for TISS-SVE?

My education and training in the field of clinical trial, pharmacovigilance, medical writing, regulatory affairs can be useful for TISS-SVE.

Few words for the budding pharmacologists.

Metaphorically speaking, career in medical pharmacology is “the road less traveled” at least in the Indian context. But you have an opportunity to leave a new trail that can make your career in medical pharmacology in India as the road more often traveled. You should have an attitude of life long learner, passion for pharmacology and desire of giving something back to the society.

Dr.Sandeep Kumar Gupta, is also the treasurer and one of the founding members of IMPA. He is well known among the Indian pharmacologists circle for many of his research articles and books. Read more about TISS:SVE here. thank him for this interview.


World Congress of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology (WCP-2014) | “My experience at Cape Town” | Dr.Natesh Prabhu

WCP: World Cup for Pharmacologists, that’s how they called it as it happens once in four years. I was so happy when I received the mail mentioning the acceptance of my bursary application. This time I was even happier than when I received the abstract acceptance mail.

Happy moment

Happy moment

I was too excited to attend the conference after receiving my visa just a day before the departure date. It was a race and with God’s grace I was all aboard. I met the representatives of Indian Pharmacological Society (IPS) at Mumbai airport. As IPS is the member society of IUPHAR, it gets to participate in voting bid to select the next organizers for subsequent two congresses. And it happened to be Japan for WCP-2018 and Scotland for WCP-2022.

So I was all set for a night long flight. I couldn’t control my excitement. It was like a dream moment. I was the youngest among my pharmacology team, 27 years old then, single and travelling to Cape Town 😉 I had the opportunity to meet and spend time with Dr.Y.K Gupta, Dr. Bikash Medhi, Dr.Surender Singh, Dr.Arunabha Ray, Dr.Kavita Gulati, Dr.Dinesh Kumar, Dr.Dinesh Badyal, Dr.Chetna desai, Dr.Anil Gulati and many others. We landed in Johannesburg and during my transit form Johannesburg to Cape Town, I befriended a Chinese co-passenger, Maggie Yiqun He, whose mom was an attendee of the conference and came to know about the Chinese working culture. We are still in touch through Facebook.

Maggie Yiqun He

Maggie Yiqun He

Touchdown Cape Town and I had already started my City Tour which was briefed by a cabbie who was too cool to tell about few secrets of downtown!


Cool Cabbie

Day O-Sunday, event kick started by evening with traditional opening ceremonial dances and inaugural speeches which ended with a gala dinner. The next five days were filled with lectures from various eminent speakers among them I had a chance to interact with a guest speaker from Sydney as we were walking from our hotel to the Convention Centre where the conference was held. I learned about the role of pharmacologists in health services in Australia.

Day 1, I was recording the beautiful streets of Cape Town as I walked to the Convention Centre. I got my bursary of Zar 3,000 from the registration desk along with conference goodies and ID. I was behaving too mature among those experienced attendees. Sometime later I got to meet people of my age from other countries, both Indians and foreigners.

During the five day event, I got to listen to few brilliant lectures. Also few presentations were so pathetic that the speakers were just reading from the slides and one among them couldn’t even read the contents properly. Then I was told that few “influential” guest speakers somehow “convince” the organizers to include them as a speaker-Lee side of an International Event.

Day 2, I did two poster presentations on diabetes and during the presenting period I had a chance to meet various researchers from USA, Malaysia, Kenya, South Africa and Japan which gave me a good perspective about the research culture over there. IPS team was invited by IUPHAR for a cocktail dinner with other member societies. I too got the invite from IPS to attend the dinner for which I am thankful to them. I had a great opportunity to talk to the presidents of various societies in other countries which gave me an inspiration to start Indian Medical Pharmacologists Association (IMPA).

Day 3, I attended the conference till noon and shared a cab with two others for the peninsular tour of Cape Town. The chauffeur was too cool to converse with and guided me to the nightlife of Cape Town and I must say it’s a Maverick world out there! 😉

Day 4, usual type of presentations among which two lectures on Pharmacogenetics impressed me. Later that night, I was invited for the dinner hosted by Dr.Y.K.Gupta and Dr. Anil Gulati at Hotel Hilton. We all had a scrumptious meal and nice chat which ended with a photo session.

Day 5, I was already experiencing the blues of leaving Cape Town. As it was a half-day session, I started my vagabond journey by foot to explore the city only to return to my room by night and had Gnocchi, an Italian delicacy which was introduced to me by a Pakistani whom I befriended at the hotel. We used to meet at the lobby and have a chat over a beer by night.


Pakistani Pal

Next day early in the morning, I left Cape Town with happy memories and wonderful experiences from my first international conference. Deep in my mind I had this thought of bringing a change to the stagnant pharmacology scene in India and till now I am trying my level best to make a mark!

And about the tips on tapping the bursaries: “Motivation Letter”

  • Express your true intention in the bursary application.
  • The area of your research should preferably be of social importance.
  • Project that you are in financial needs for attending the conference.
  • Convince them that attending the conference will bring a change in your future endeavors.
  • And don’t fail to repeatedly write to them, even if they deny your application on first attempt.
  • Being a student and also an Indian will give you an extra edge over the other applicants.
  • A good English knowledge will be helpful to write the “Motivation Letter” for the bursary application within the given word limit.
    My Motivation Letter for Bursary Application

    My Motivation Letter for Bursary Application

0 – Exclusive Interview with previous year winners of International BioCamp_2015 ¦ Dr.Manthan Mehta

Yesterday we gave you Dr.Pavithra Krishnan‘s interview. Join us today for the interview with Dr.Manthan Mehta (Arrow marked in the pic) who too made it to Basel, Switzerland.

What is biocamp and how did you come to know about it?

BioCamp is a biotechnology leadership camp organized by Novartis which brings together 50 participants from the fields of medicine, pharmacy, life sciences, management, patent law etc. It consists of sessions on drug development, gives an insight into the pharmaceutical industry and a competition based on a given case study. I got to know about it from BusinessLine, a leading Business newspaper and through the IMPA Clinical Pharmacology group (WhatsApp).

Explain about the selection process:Road to Hyderabad

It’s a three step process.

Step 1: Application form which consisted of personal information and academic credentials.

Step 2: Aptitude Test. A 40 minute online test consisting of 20 questions on Logic and 20 questions on English language.

Step 3: Once you clear the Aptitude test successfully, you have to upload your CV and degree certificates. Following which is a telephonic Interview which decides your final selection for the BioCamp.

Tell us about the Preliminary online test? How will you score the difficulty on a scale of 0-5 (0 – Easy | 5 – Insane)?

The preliminary online test is fairly easy. I would rate it 2 on a scale of 5.

Tip: You just have to be quick!

Did you prepare for the telephonic interview? Give few tips on this for our readers.

The telephonic interview is the most crucial part of the selection process. I did not prepare for it per se.

Few tips for the interview would be:

  1. Please be honest.
  2. Be spontaneous and to the point.
  3. You get sufficient time to showcase yourself.  According to me, how you answer a question is more important than what you answer.

What kind of questions were asked in the telephonic interview and on what topics were they?

The questions ranged from your thesis topic to extracurricular activities. There is a special emphasis on past experience in working in a team or a group. The questions test your goals and ambitions in life and also check your core values. For example: What inspired you to take up MD Pharmacology over a clinical branch?, What career path do you intend to choose after your MD?, Etc.

How was your state of mind after the interview? Did you feel positive or doubtful?

I thought I answered the questions to the best of my ability but that element of doubt was always there!

How helpful was your college in this achievement?

TNMC played a major role in this achievement. We have an interesting pattern of holding journal clubs as a group activity and that helped me a lot when it came to working in a group at the BioCamp. Exercises on protocol designing and biostatistics helped me in solving the case study well. A special thanks to the Department of Pharmacology, TNMC.

Was the “Mumbai Edge” helpful?

They choose people from all over the country irrespective of the city/place they belong to.

What were your preparations after getting selected for the National BioCamp?

You can’t prepare anything since you don’t know what case study is going to come your way. They sent us some pre-reading material which I read before attending.

Where there any bursaries from Novartis?

The whole BioCamp was sponsored by Novartis and they gave us some amazing goodies too.

How were the accommodation and other arrangements?

The arrangements were fabulous. They pampered us a lot.

A detailed walk through at Novartis, Hyderabad_BioCamp.

Day 0 : A brief orientation followed by division into teams for an interesting treasure hunt through the sightseeing places in Hyderabad. A very innovative concept. In the evening, we had a small self-learning exercise which helped us identify our basic personality traits. It was followed by a DJ party!

Day 1 : Starts sharp at 8. ( Very particular about time). Some keynote sessions by great speakers followed by the case study question in the evening. New teams were formed and 2 facilitators were appointed for each team. The whole night was a brainstorming session.

Day 2 : I was too sleepy to sit through the sessions but they were pretty interesting and kept me awake. Case study discussion continued through the evening and night.

Day 3 : D-day. All the teams presented the case study which was judged by a panel of 7 judges from diverse backgrounds. A Question & Answer session followed. (You can answer just one question). A grand valedictory function ended the BioCamp.

Was there any bitter moments at BioCamp?

The whole experience was amazing. There wasn’t any place for bitter moments.

How competitive were the other teams?

Very competitive. Each one was better than the other. You have to give better than your best.

I have heard from previous BioCamp participants that, there will hardly be time to sleep at night. How did you pass through this drill?

That’s true. But you don’t realize where the night passes. You will be too active that you lose your ( Day-Night) time-orientation.

Did attending BioCamp bring about any change in your career goals?

It made me more focused about my career goals. I understood closely how the industry functions and what role suited me best.

In what way do you think BioCamp will be helpful in sculpting your future?

BioCamp grooms your personality as a whole. It helped me in understanding team-play and respecting everyone for what they are. It has made me more responsible as an individual.

 What are you planning to pursue after your MD?

I am planning to pursue a career in the industry as a part of the Medical Affairs team.

After attending Biocamp, what is your say on Current Scenario of Big Pharma in India?

Big Pharma has a big role in India. Novartis, for example, has a global development centre in Hyderabad. There is immense growth in Big Pharma and India has always been a country of interest for the world.

What personalities in you have helped you to succeed in this workshop?

The judges, facilitators and my team-mates could answer that better. In my view, my patient hearing and social skills helped me a lot.

 If you want to re-experience a moment at Hyderabad, what will be that?

The moment when my name was announced as a winner. I just didn’t know how to react.

Where you determined to get selected for Basel or just went to attend the National BioCamp and eventually got selected?

At the back of our mind, we always try to win. But to be honest, my main goal was to learn at the BioCamp. Getting selected for Basel was the best reward I could expect.

What are you expecting at Basel? (We asked this before she started to Basel)

A whole lot of fun-filled learning, networking and an experience of a lifetime.

How helpful was our WhatsApp/Telegram group?

It was extremely helpful. The Clinical Pharmacology discussions helped me devise a good clinical development strategy for my case-study. IMPA should continue its efforts in imparting knowledge to budding pharmacologists like myself.

Any suggestions for the future participants of BioCamp?

Everyone must try. Winning is not the only thing. What we learn there cannot be put on paper. It’s an experience you must live for yourself. I had explained the selection process and the whole functioning of the BioCamp. The knowledge you gain at your college gets applied there, so one must be proactive at the institute level as well. In case, people want to know more, I am always happy to help. Feel free to get in touch with me.

Dr.Manthan Mehta is a 3rd year postgraduate student pursuing MD Pharmacology at Topiwala National Medical College & BYL Nair Hospital, Mumbai. His (career) goal is to make it big in the pharmaceutical industry and he has been striving hard towards it. As quoted by him: “I am a funny sarcastic guy who tries to have fun in whatever I do.”

We are happy to have him interviewed and soon will be presenting you all about his experience at International BioCamp held at Novartis Global HQ, Basel, Switzerland.

Dr.Manthan (Encircled) with his team mates at Hyderabad

Dr.Manthan (Encircled) with his team mates at Hyderabad






1+ – Exclusive Interview with previous year winners of International BioCamp_2015 ¦ Dr.Pavithra Krishnan

Dr.Pavithra Krishnan with Mr.Ranjith Shahani, the Managing director and VC of Novartis, India.

As the participants of National BioCamp_Hyderabad,2016 have been announced, we present you our exclusive interview with previous year National BioCamp winners, Dr.Pavithra Krishnan and Dr.Manthan Mehta who made it to Basel, Switzerland.

To begin with, read what Dr.Pavithra Krishnan had told us!

What is biocamp and how did you come to know about it?

Biocamp is a four day event hosted by Novartis. It’s a platform where we get to meet great minds from different parts iof the country and their role in the pharmaceutical sector. I would simply  call it “a unique learning experience” and an opportunity to meet the who’s who of the pharma world.

I was introduced to it by my colleagues who had applied for the same last year.

Explain about the selection process:Road to Hyderabad

The selection process is rigorous. There are three steps to get there.

Step 1: A strong and impressive CV will help you get through step one. Extracurricular activities has also been given weightage apart from our academics which I believe gave me the edge over others.

Step 2: The aptitude test which is easy to crack if you know basic math(ematics) and good english.

Step 3: The telephonic interview where they assessed our overall personality.

Tell us about the Preliminary online test? How will you score the difficulty on a scale of 0-5 (0 – Easy | 5 – Insane)?

I would score it 0 because maths is my favourite subject. So I didn’t have any trouble.

Did you prepare for the telephonic interview? Give few tips on this for our readers.

No. I did not prepare for the interview. I had a few really nice seniors who gave me an idea of what to expect during the interview. Since it had nothing to do with our textbooks I did not prepare(for it).

What kind of questions were asked in the telephonic interview and on what topics were they?

It was not completely academic based. Apart from my thesis discussion and bioassay ,there was  personality assessment. Which included our interests, hobbies and leadership qualities, tackling with hypothetical life situations at work and elsewhere, to mention a few.

How was your state of mind after the interview? Did you feel positive or doubtful?

Very positive. I knew I had made it.

How helpful was your college in this achievement?

My HOD and staff have always been very supportive and encouraging. There have never been problems getting permission to attend such events. I was given my space to prepare.

What were your preparations after getting selected for the National BioCamp?

After getting selected I read up the pre reads that’s given to every selected participant. My friend, Dr.Divyalasya (Previous year participant of National BioCamp) from KIMS Bangalore, gave me an overview of how exactly things work there. I could then know which part of pharmacology I had to focus on. My brother Chaitanya, who gave me tips on management aspects. I believe that a medico with a fair amount of knowledge in Marketing (Yes, I read a few books) is likely to have an advantage.

Where there any bursaries from Novartis?

All our travel and accommodation and food was sponsored by Novartis.

How were the accommodation and other arrangements?

Beyond awesome!

A detailed walk through at Novartis, Hyderabad_BioCamp.

Day 0: Ice breaker.If you are an extrovert and love socializing this is your  day.And you get to roam  the beautiful city of Hyderabad.

Day 1: Talks and sessions focused on Clinical pharmacology.

Day 2: Talks and sessions focused on Management.

Day 3: Presentation of the case study and gala dinner.


Was there any bitter moments at BioCamp?

No. Not one.

How competitive were the other teams?

Extraordinary would be the appropriate word. Each and every team worked passionately in the task assigned and it showed on the last day of team presentations.

I have heard from previous BioCamp participants that, there will hardly be time to sleep at night. How did you pass through this drill?

It depends on your teammates and how well you can pull it off in the end. Our team had more than enough sleep on day 2 and we compensated by being awake for a long time on the night before our presentation. It wasn’t bad at all because we were having fun while we were at work.

How challenging it was being a female participant?

Well, I think gender never posed any challenge. In fact we have performed better. Two ladies out of top three.

Did attending BioCamp bring about any change in your career goals?

No change. Post Biocamp, I am only surer of where I am heading. It’s all clear now.

In what way do you think BioCamp will be helpful in sculpting your future?

The diversity that I was exposed to in the three days was mindblowing. I could easily identify my strengths and weaknesses. On what I have to work on urgently. The contacts of course will come a long way. I made some amazing friends for a lifetime!

 What are you planning to pursue after your MD?

May be after the Swiss trip I will be surer of which course to take up. Currently Industry.

After attending Biocamp, what is your say on Current Scenario of Big Pharma in India?

The future is bright and I am very optimistic about that.

What personalities in you have helped you to succeed in this workshop?


 If you want to re-experience a moment at Hyderabad, what will be that?

The Ice breaker session with my team and of course, the winning moment.

Where you determined to get selected for Basel or just went to attend the National BioCamp and eventually got selected?

I was determined to fly to Basel, just like everyone else. But not winning did not mean disappointment. I take everything in life as a “bonus”.

What are you expecting at Basel? (We asked this before she started to Basel)

Friends. Learning. Fun. (In that order)

How helpful was our WhatsApp/Telegram group?

IMPA is a great initiative for students like us. The timely clinical updates have been of immense help. Clinical Pharmac discussion inspired me to read and learn more about its various dimensions that came in handy during this Biocamp. Thanks to you Dr.Natesh Prabhu (Admin and Chief Editor of

Dr.Pavithra Krishnan is a student of Rajarajeswari Medical College and Hospital,Bangalore, Karnataka. She had worked as a  Research Intern in a Clinical Research Organisation during her post graduation period. Also she is a trained classical dancer who loves art and music apart from reading and travelling and strongly believes  that versatility makes life more adaptable and colourful.

We are happy to have her interviewed and soon will be presenting you all about her experience at International BioCamp held at Novartis Global HQ, Basel, Switzerland.

Dr.Pavithra with her team at Hyderabad

Dr.Pavithra with her team at Hyderabad