Q: Tell me a bit about yourself.
My name is Rupsa Basu and I am a viral immunologist by passion and a backpacker at heart. My mantra of life is to dream, believe and achieve. As a seven years old kid, I started dreaming about becoming a scientist and developed an increased interest in reading science fiction and detective fiction stories. After reading the book “Selfish Gene” in elementary school, I got inspired with nature’s scientific secrets and slowly idolized scientists like Darwin, Watson & Cricks, Mendel and more. Fast forward a few years, I did my undergraduate degree- Bachelor of Science with a major of Zoology in University of Calcutta, one of most prestigious universities and won a gold medal for being a top ranker in the state. I got awarded with a very competitive scholarship by the Government of India to pursue my Masters of Science, Molecular Biology & Genetics in one of the leading and highly prestigious academic institutions globally, The Presidency University, India, with 193 years history of notable alumni including Nobel prize winners. After earning my masters degree with first class distinction, I came to the United States for my PhD. In Michigan Technological University, I successfully finished my doctorate with the highest GPA of 4.0 on Molecular Virology and Vaccinology. I won several awards and grants, and published several high impact factor publications on novel viral vaccines developed by myself. Apart from science, I am an avid book reader and enjoy dancing.
Q: Why did you decide to join Humane Genomics?
Humane Genomics has been working on developing novel therapeutics using synthetic viruses to treat cancer. This mission is very close to my heart as I have lost several family members due to cancers. As a virologist, I am intrigued in utilizing the good nature of viruses to help target & cure critical cancers. Apart from the scientific mission, I strongly believed in the wonderful culture of the company. It’s a small but a power pack team currently with a fine balance of innovative research, brain triggering whiteboard sessions, empathy & enjoyable work environment with occasional parties. We are like a family at work with a common mission to cure cancer.
Q: Why is your background a great fit?
I have overall more than 12 years of R&D experience in conducting cutting edge as well as state of the art research on several fields such as immuno-oncology, nanomedicine, clinical research, virology vaccines and immunology. As a part of doctorate dissertation & NIH grants, I have developed & formulated several efficient, thermostable, cost effective, dual targeting (prophylactic & therapeutic) virus-like particle vaccines against epidemic viruses such as Zika Virus, Chikungunya virus, Human papillomavirus, Influenza virus, SARS- CoV 2 & novel virus based platforms. This led to winning the prestigious 3minute thesis award competition, oral talks in international conferences, guest lectures, grants worth $2M of non dilutive funding & several peer reviewed publications in high impact factor journals such as Vaccine, Virology Journal, Antiviral Research etc. I always follow a creative thinking approach to solve problems even in time constrained projects. I also have experience at several start-ups. I have led multiple projects in scientific and business areas, focusing on process development, clinical trial designs, GMP, viral immunology, immune boosting infant nutrition and vaccines. In addition I am a review & editor of several high impact factor peer reviewed scientific associations & journals. With an amalgamation of viruses & cancer as well as slowly increasing business acumen, I am a perfect fit as the lead scientist in Humane Genomics Inc.
Q: What is your role and what are you working on?
As the lead scientist I prioritize what projects we work on, together with our co-founder and CSO Chad. Based on prioritization I am responsible for making the daily planning for the team. I am responsible for running the lab, making sure that all consumables are in stock and ordered on time, and that we keep a complete inventory. Apart from the lab operations, I am also responsible for optimizing, troubleshooting and standardizing R&D protocols for improving workflows. Recently we have successfully synthesized & rescued a few novel engineered viruses. We are working on deciphering the selectivity, safety & efficacy of those engineered viruses in in-vitro models and immunological efficacy of such viruses in a tumor microenvironment.
Q: What are you most excited about?
I am still pinching myself after successfully rescuing the first engineered virus and really excited about getting it into action in the tumor physiological environment moving into mouse models & hopefully clinical trials soon.