Happy New Year to all readers. Hope you had great start of the 2023! In this new year, I had an opportunity to meet my friend Ranjit Ranbhor. Ranjit is an excellent biopharma professional with unique IP skills. He is currently working as a Scientific Advisor at Pergament & Cepeda LLP (New Jersey, USA). He shared his journey, passion for technology and IP as we delved deep into conversation. I hope his journey would provide motivation to young IP professional to pursue this career path.
If anyone of you have such passion and story telling skills which would help IP professionals, then you can contact me. I would be more than happy to share your journey! You can also contact me if you want to publish patent litigation summary, article, or simply anything related to IP.
Here is an excerpt from the interview with Ranjit:
Tell us bit about yourself.
It all began in 1994 when I made the decision to pursue a career in pharmaceutical sciences to better the lives of others. After pursuing Bachelor of Pharmacy and Master’s in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology through campus placement, I joined Cadila Pharmaceuticals as a Management Trainee in Formulation and Development department. I then worked on the first Indian recombinant human insulin at Wockhardt as a Research Associate. I joined Prof. Toshiko Ichiye’s group at Georgetown University, USA, as a post-doctoral research fellow after pursuing a Ph.D. in biotechnology. I had experience working with prestigious pharmaceutical firms Sun Pharma, Biocon, Aurigene, Glenmark, and Cadila Pharma. I am a certified Indian Patent Agent as well. My experience in the field of intellectual property (IP) spans the following areas: in-licensing/out-licensing (due diligence) IP support, patent dispute resolution, freedom-to-operate analysis, patent enforcement, and competitive landscape analysis.
Your career path indicates you acquired broader skill sets and a variety of roles in biopharmaceutical businesses. What inspired you to pursue such an unusual career path?
It all began in 1994 when I made the decision to pursue a career in pharmacy to better the lives of others. Following the successful cloning of Dolly the sheep in 1996, I decided to pursue a master’s degree in biotechnology because I believed it was one of the technologies that will revolutionize the trajectory of research in biology and medicine. I received my Master’s degree in Biotechnology from NIPER, one of India’s best schools. The first draft of the Human Genome Project was published in the year 2000. Almost half of the Human Genome Project-identified genes have no known function. Bioinformatics was being used by scientists to find genes, determine their roles, and devise gene-based strategies for treatment. After a brief period of employment, I opted to pursue a Ph.D. in Bioinformatics. Fortunately, I was able to obtain a fellowship at IIT Bombay to pursue a Ph.D. in Bioinformatics. I kept up with technological developments. While pursuing my career as a Research Scientist in BioPharma Industry, I realized that Patent law plays an important role in the property rights regime and is essential to a well-functioning competitive economy. I decided to pursue career in Intellectual Property Management. Working in IPM requires creative thinking which makes the job intellectually very stimulating.
What were the difficulties while working in a legal company? How did you respond to them?
Working in a legal company can be hectic and stressful at times. I must collaborate with patent attorneys, the USPTO office and inventors and sometimes need to travel to meet with clients. I was able to demonstrate proficiency in the field of biopharmaceutical inventions due to my good educational background. I can effectively and affordably represent the rights to the invention using the information I learned through school and practice.
Tell us about your current role at Pergament & Cepeda LLP.
I am currently employed as a Scientific Advisor at Pergament & Cepeda LLP. My current position necessitates knowledge in science, commerce, and patent law. I consult on broad and specific science concerns, develop, and prosecute patent applications with the USPTO, prepare and deliver presentations on science and patent law topics, conduct freedom to operate, patentability, and prior art searches, and assist attorneys with due diligence tasks. I also expanded the firm’s business, particularly in the specialty areas of cell treatment and biology.
How does your work benefit society?
In society, innovation has a significant role. Innovation solves problems by developing successful methods, products, and ideas, thus advancing society. I assist inventors by obtaining credit (intellectual property) for their hard work and research. While working at Pergament & Cepeda LLP, I also undertook a pro-bono consulting for small biotech company with US FDA needs. I am currently working on a cell therapy approval by US FDA a rare disease. A rare disease is one that affects fewer than 200,000 people in the United States. Due to expectation that the pharmaceuticals would be profitable, the commercial sector had to motivation to participate in the research and development of treatments for rare diseases. Congress created the Orphan Drug Act of 1983 to encourage the development of treatments for rare diseases. Still the rare disease treatments or therapies are costly and at times unaffordable in USA. The high cost of health care is a burden on individual patients, their families, and society. I am helping a small biotech company to get the US FDA approval for cell therapy for a rare indication so that the therapy will be available for US population at an affordable price.
Can you tell us any specific memorable work you did that is close to you?
Litigation increases the cost of drug development. In one of the matters I was handling, I avoided patent litigation costs by amicably bringing the other party to settle by low-cost patent interference proceedings. That saved cost of litigation.
Your advice for patent law aspirants?
Patent law is not for everyone, but those who enjoy it, it provides the highest level of job satisfaction in the legal profession. I looked into patent law as a way to combine law and technology. Despite the fact that it is a challenging and stressful profession, you are always working on something new. So, it is lot of learning and lot of fun.