Dr. Ritu Trivedi searching for clues to stop chronic diseases
Dr. Ritu Trivedi is a molecular biologist researching on chronic diseases such as osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, and obesity at Central Drug Research Institute as a Senior Scientist. She shared her real views about the current problems and actions need to be implemented to empower women in science and research. Dr. Ritu Trivedi knew what she is up to and never backed with fear of failure. She is a real successor with evident by her achievements and scientific contribution made so far. Dr. Ritu Trivedi has a long journey to walk through, and we wish her success in the coming years.
About Dr.Ritu Trivedi in her own words
Did my Ph.D. from Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGIMS) Lucknow in Endocrinology. After that, I moved to the US at National Institute of Health (NIH) Bethesda, for a post-doc in developmental biology. Came back to India and joined as a scientist at Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI) in the Endocrinology Division in 2004. I work in CDRI in the area of Metabolic Bone Disorders. Have published more than 80 publications in peer-reviewed journals with 12 Patents Out of these two have been commercialized and one drug by the name REUNION for rapid fracture healing is in the market.
Research Interests of Dr. Ritu Trivedi
My research program addresses the problems related to bone health specifically osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, and obesity. The primary focus is to study the inter-relationship of declining sex steroid levels in aging women and men leading to bone loss. We also examine the effects of obesity in growing children and adults that in our studies has shown to affect the growing skeleton adversely. Our studies show that both declining sex steroids and obesity predisposes one to higher fracture risk and osteoarthritic effects. We elucidate the reasons for these results complimented with animal studies and basic bone biology tools examining bone (osteoblast), fat (adipocyte) and cartilage cells at specific stages of their growth. Our studies represent the leading edge in bone biology research, especially for Indian women.
Interview session of Dr. Vinita Bharat with Biostandups Team
BS: Who has inspired you in your life and why?
RT: Inspiration has been a number of people. Firstly, it has been my mother; I remember that since a very young age, my mother made sure to tell me about the plight of women and awareness about women issues. Some magazines covered women stories, and sometimes the stories in them about women were atrocious. Now I understand why she made me do this. Through these stories, she made sure to ingrain in me the importance of being a strong and independent woman. You can get out of many of these problems if you are independent.
Later in life, a fortunate independent woman who was at the peak of her career and in a responsible position in the institute where I was doing my Ph.D. has inspired me. Science like many others is a man dominated the profession. I learned from her the importance of knowing one’s craft very well especially in the area that you work so that people (men) listen to you. My mentor who is a pleased free-spirited soul, a good scientist and an ever-helping person is a constant source of inspiration. He trusted me and gave me space both personally and professionally when I very much need it.
BS: Do you recall what started your enthusiasm for science & research?
RT: As a child, I have grown up in the scientific environment and have imbibed many things while growing up as both my parents are from the science background. She also tells me that at a very young age I use to carry my father’s big fat chemistry book and say that I will read this and be a teacher like him. So, the fact that this enthusiasm for science and research is genetic in my case cannot be ruled out.
BS: What excites you the most about your scientific research?
RT: I do translational research; therefore, the idea that what is being done in the lab if adequately pursued has the possibility of being translated to be in the market for the humankind is overwhelming. This not only keeps you excited but also drives to work at a faster pace.
BS: What gets you genuinely excited about Scientific life without getting bored?
RT: Scientific life is not at all boring. It not only entails doing experiments but involves a lot of administrative and managerial work. We meet a lot of people who work in or even out of the area that you work to build healthy collaborations that if productive are very helpful. Building good partnerships is an art that we learn with experience. Regarding experiments there is constant racking of brain to how to carry out a particular investigation or solve a scientific problem, this keeps you always motivated. It is interesting that most of the times one faces a new challenge. This leaves no chance of getting bored.
BS: How do you manage to achieve success as women scientist in India?
RT: I just enjoy what I do and not necessarily think of success all the time. Victory in itself is a very relative term, and its perspective varies from person to person.
BS: Are there any unforgettable moments of your career?
RT: Yes, very recently in 2015 a drug from my lab has come out. Derived from the leaves of the tree Dalbergia sissoo is commonly known as Shisham. This is a prescription drug for rapid fracture healing. The day 10th April 2015 the technology was transferred, and then it was launched in the market after the clinical trials, was the most unforgettable and gratifying moment for me. The drug is by the name of REUNION and is now in the market Pan India. I have also made an 8-min. Documentary of our findings is watched with the following link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N60OQheSWUk&t=123s. I am currently looking forward to the data from the post-menopausal clinical trial so that more and more women can benefit from REUNION. This is a teamwork and to be able to bring lab research into the market is very gratifying for me.
BS: Top 3 tips you follow as scientists to keep focused and motivated?
RT: I think sincerity and perseverance for the work you do and the rest just follows.
BS: If you had to choose one thing, what do you think you’re the best in the world at other than research?
RT: I don’t know. Probably not in the world but have heard that I have excellent communication skills.
BS: Any recent read or discovery in your field of interest that you admire most?
RT: A next-generation genome editing system CRISPR is something scientists will look forward. CRISPR is a revolution that has swept biology so swiftly than any other findings.
BS: What is one unique characteristic that you have and very proud of?
RT: Still exploring. I think someone else would be in the position to answer this accurately and correctly.
BS: According to reports in India women empowerment in Science and technology is poor. What is your opinion about it?
RT: Yes, it is authentic. It is improving but at a plodding pace. If you look at the statistics based on the results that come out of classes 10th and 12th, you will find that girls are always toppers as compared to boys in high school and even in class 12th. Now if you move to college the graduation and post-graduate levels especially in science, girls still do their work most sincerely when it comes to their record files or the practical’s themselves, so far so that they outperform the boys. But when you compare the above statistics to the statistics when women placed at positions, the pyramid of having maximum women on the top is inversed to having minimum numbers.
BS: Do you think gender parity is lacking in science for women in India?
RT: Yes, very much. Sources at Department of Science and Technology say that there has been no comprehensive gender audit since 2008. This 2008 data shows that in my organization, i.e., the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research there are only 16.05% women scientists.
BS: Can you tell what type of difficulties women facing currently in research in India?
RT: There are many difficulties that women face and likewise many reasons that contribute to these effects. Even if women want to do well, they end up facing harder choices between professional and their fulfillment. Any woman who reads this would agree to what I mean to say. We (women) systemically underestimate our abilities and do not negotiate for ourselves at the workplace. This leads to lack of confidence and low self-esteem. We also see that men reach out for opportunities more than women can do.
This is evident from the fact that If a woman and man work, full time and have a child. The woman does twice the amount of household work the man does and the woman does three times the childcare the man does. She has three jobs while the man has only 1. Who do you think drops out when someone needs to be home. Out of the many things that are not in our control we can work on things that we can. It is imperative to save our identity of who we are and not always give leverage and feel proud to be recognized as somebody’s wife or mother and put at stake whatever we achieve over so many years.
BS: Can you tell us in brief about your thoughts to improve gender gap in Science for next women generation? What kind of work has to do?
RT: It is essential for women in science to realize that taking up science and then finally getting stabilized concerning a position is a long journey. Therefore, it is necessary for us to recognize that we have to hang on in spite of the difficulties of having productive and reproductive stages all at the same time and also other difficulties as I mentioned above.
BS: Can we erase gender parity for women in science in India?
RT: One has to be optimistic therefore I will say YES. Things are undoubtedly improving and will with time, but the pace is too slow. Thus, this is undoubtedly not happening in my lifetime
BS: How can we, as a community, do a better job of sharing the stories of women in science?
RT: In this sense, Biostandups is doing a commendable job of bringing women on one platform. Now it is important that these stories reach out to more and more girls who are taking up science to be able to read them and get inspired by them. Live role models have more significant impact than just reading about someone.
BS: What guidance would you provide for other and next yearning women researchers in India?
RT: Sometimes merely having women role models and achievers is helpful. Women who have struggled and made their way up in male-dominated professions like science helps the ones coming in the business realize that things are achievable.