From a scientist to a science policy analyst — my journey and key learnings

My grandmother bravely fought, but eventually lost her battle with breast cancer. Those childhood memories inspired me to take up a career focused on curing cancer. After spending a decade across 3 laboratories trying to kill cancer cells in petri dishes, I chose to leave academia. I loved every single moment at the lab bench. But I disliked the publication process and its disproportionate importance in science and could not see myself writing papers and rebuttals for the length of my academic career.

As a postdoctoral fellow in India, I had got involved in communicating issues faced by postdocs and trying to devise policy solutions. Through this opportunity, I realised that I had no training to advise on policy, but enjoyed networking with different people, understanding their issues, and identifying possible solutions. But more importantly, I saw the need for a bridge between scientists and policymakers, sparking my interest in learning public policy. I joined the Takshashila Institution, where I first formally studied public policy and now work as a Research Fellow. Through the course I was introduced to concepts that I had seldom given any thought to. I found myself asking a lot of questions about policy decisions in science: economic reasoning, why price caps don’t make sense, opportunity cost of funding a particular form of research, the difference between ethics and scientific risks, the need and mechanisms for public engagement, etc. (Read more)

This blog was first published on Medium.