Looking to scale new heights
For the affable Dr. Tushar Tewari, PATH Team Leader of a rotavirus vaccine project, Eastern and Southern India have been his home as a medical student. As a professional it has been Western and Northern India, thus, literally covering the breadth of the country. He has worked on clinical studies ranging from vaccines, oncology, and infectious diseases to ophthalmology, pulmonology, and neurology and now brings his expertise to the efficacy trial of a rotavirus vaccine in India. PATH is currently collaborating with the Serum Institute of India in developing a bovine-human reassortant pentavalent vaccine (BRV-PV) to prevent rotavirus infections, which will soon be in a Phase 3 clinical trial in India. Rotavirus diarrhea is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in children under 5 years of age in developing world.
You are the Team Leader for PATH's BRV-PV project in India. Tell us, what does that mean?
I am responsible for planning and execution and medical supervision of the study. This includes writing critical study documents like the protocol and the consent documents. Once the study starts, I will be keeping an oversight on safety issues of the vaccine. This is to preempt any untoward incident. The medical team is the champion of the protocol and the point of contact for anybody who was a protocol related query.
As an MD, what brought you to clinical trials? You have been associated with research for the past 10 years. What fascinates you?
The journey of a drug from the laboratory to the clinic has always fascinated me and I wanted to be a part of such an endeavor. Being a medical doctor I thought I can contribute to this journey by bringing in my expertise to plan and design clinical studies, so it has been worthwhile.
What do you find most exciting in your job profile in PATH?
This is a great team, where each supports the other in its possibilities and there is opportunity to work with global stalwarts who are now fantastic colleagues. There are exciting and challenging assignments which impart a great deal of all-around learning and appreciation for a good job done.
Do you face any challenges?
Well, for this study we have sites from across the country - East, South, Central, and Western India. Every State has a different culture and social habits. Also there are multiple stakeholders and it will be important to communicate firmly and effectively so that everybody is aboard to work to consensus. As we progress, there will be new challenges.
You have hiked to the Himalayas - any similarities in your work life?
I have been a keen hiker and the Himalayas have been a preferred destination for me and my group of friends. Trekking has parallels with my work now - it is a journey, there are peaks and valleys. There are challenges every day and as we overcome these, we scale new heights. Getting a rotavirus vaccine for the developing world is going to be a great new high!