Dr. Tushar Tewari has worked on clinical studies in areas ranging from oncology and infectious diseases to ophthalmology, pulmonology, and neurology. Now, he’s using his skills to find a solution for a leading killer of children under age five in developing countries: diarrhea caused by rotavirus.
A native of India, Tushar is leading a PATH team that is collaborating with the Serum Institute of India in developing a vaccine to prevent rotavirus infections. The vaccine candidate will soon enter a late-stage clinical trial in India. Tushar spoke about his work with Sushmita Malaviya, a communications officer in our India Program, in an interview first published on our sister website, DefeatDD.org.
Sushmita: You are the team leader for PATH’s rotavirus vaccine study in India. Tell us, what does that mean?
Tushar: 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 operational execution and safety issues of the vaccine.
As an MD, what brought you to clinical trials?
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 about your job?
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 that impart a great deal of all-around learning and appreciation for a good job done.
What are the challenges you face?
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!