Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) alumna Pratyusha G Roy has held several roles in marketing and product management in the biotechnology industry since graduating with her Master of Business and Science (MBS) degree in 2012. After plying her trade in the biotech hub of Boston, she recently moved back to California with her current endeavor at the leading genomics and biotechnology company 23andMe.
“Advancements in the field of genetics will help answer a lot of unanswered questions regarding causes of diseases that are not yet fully understood,” said Roy.
Roy is part of the research marketing team at 23andMe, where she works on making research engaging, friendly, and relatable. Her primary focus is on building effective recruitment and engagement strategies for research projects that explore underlying genetics behind disease conditions.
23andMe was founded in 2006 with the mission to help people access, understand, and benefit from the human genome. The company has collected one billion data points and has more than 5,000,000 customers who access health and ancestry reports.
“23andMe empowers people to make more informed decisions regarding their health” Roy said. “Through its research programs, 23andMe will continue to spearhead many scientific discoveries in the field of genetics, with hopes of enabling better drug discovery and development in the future.”
Following the Human Genome project and the dramatic increase in companies like 23andMe, professionals who can become leaders in the field of genetics, counseling, and analytics are in high demand. KGI is responding to this industry need with two new human genetics degree programs, both slated to start up in the Fall of 2018: Master of Science in Human Genetics and Genetic Counseling (MSGC), and Master of Science in Human Genetics and Genomic Data Analytics (MSGDA).
The two-year MSGC program is dedicated to benefiting society through the education, training, and development of innovative, collaborative, culturally-competent, articulate, and caring genetic counselors who will serve the needs of individual patients, the healthcare system, and the bioscience industry. The program will prepare graduates to be leaders among healthcare professionals dedicated to the delivery of advanced personally-optimized patient care and the translation of applied and clinical science breakthroughs to enhance the quality of life.
The two-year MSGDA program capitalizes on KGI’s core curriculum in human genetics and builds upon this to expand a student’s knowledge in the areas of genomics and data analytics. Students will undertake innovative courses in DNA sequencing technologies, pharmacogenomics, genetic variant interpretation, and genomic data visualization, as well as complete an industry-sponsored capstone project or research thesis.
Upon completion of the program, students will be able to combine their foundation in genetics with a practical knowledge of analytics to be able to translate information and bridge gaps between research scientists and practitioners.
As a working professional in the field of genetics, Roy understands the value of these degrees and their future potential.
“Advances in the field of genetics holds a strong promise for understanding disease conditions better, leading to the development of more targeted and personalized therapies,” she said. “I believe that professionals specializing in human genetics will be key contributors to driving this forward. Moreover, as consumers become more and more interested in learning about their personal genetics, trained genetic counselors can help better interpret their genetic results and develop plans for managing their health and lifestyle accordingly.”
Prior to joining 23andMe, Roy worked at PatientsLikeMe, a patient-focused digital health company, where she spent her time developing strategies to better engage patients with their own health and building member journeys for online research studies focused on obtaining inputs directly from patients. She believes that patients can play a huge role in transforming healthcare in many ways, and it is her passion to help bring their voices and experiences to the forefront of healthcare. Roy continues to nurture this passion at 23andMe, where she works on projects aimed at understanding disease conditions better, with inputs from those who choose to participate in their research.
Roy always knew that science would play a major role in her career. Following her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering technology, she knew her interests lay in advancing science from a business point of view. After learning about KGI’s hybrid MBS program, which mixes science and business, it seemed tailor-made for her needs and aspirations.
“At KGI, I learned not only in the traditional classroom setting, but also from industry experts, accomplished alumni, and peers at various events organized by the Institute,” she said. “The curriculum itself provided ample opportunities to apply the knowledge gained in classrooms by working directly with companies to solve real business problems. Gaining hands-on industry experience on multiple projects while still in school—along with a summer internship—helped build a strong foundation for my career.”