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Q&A with Rathindra Bose, Ph.D.
Ohio University’s new V.P. for research joins OU-COM faculty

By Anita Martin
Photos by John Sattler

Rathindra Bose, Ph.D., cancer researcher and OU-COM’s new professor of biomedical sciences, is a master of mixing it up. An experienced chemist and college administrator, he can navigate complexities at both molecular and managerial levels.

On July 1, Bose joined Ohio University as vice president for research and creative activity, and as dean of the graduate college—a new unit designed to enhance visibility and competitiveness of graduate education.

Meanwhile, in partnership with OU-COM, he also conducts preclinical trials on compounds with the potential to treat ovarian, testicular, and head and neck cancers. He holds a joint tenured professorship in OU-COM and in the College of Arts and Sciences Department of Chemistry.
 

O.U.M. Welcome to Ohio University. What do you think of the place so far?
   
R.B. Thank you. I’m grateful to be a part of such an outstanding institution. It’s the oldest university in Ohio, and it has tremendous potential in terms of research and both graduate and undergraduate education.
   
  What are your goals as VP of research and creative activity?
   
  My goal is to enhance university research through three means ...
  • One: to increase external funding in research—to get more support from federal, state and private or industrial sources;
     
  • Two: to continually improve existing and build new research infrastructure. You can’t do research without expensive toys, and technology today is obsolete within three years; and
     
  • Three: to continue to attract outstanding faculty and graduate students. Expensive toys and good facilities are nothing without exceptional brain power.

 

  How will your role as VP for research and creative activity complement your role as dean of the new graduate college?
   
  It’s all integrated. All graduate students in any discipline do research. They are in the forefront of research, under the supervision of their advisors—and that’s a very important point. Faculty shape graduate students: their overall perspectives, their projects, their concepts about those projects, and they use graduate students to drive their own research to the next levels.

There are a lot of dimensions to graduate education—in the lab, in creating new programs and developing curricula. And new fields that have never existed before are developing constantly. We to keep eyes open on these new fields.
   
  Describe the biochemical research you’ll do with OU-COM.
   
  I’ve spent 25 years working to develop a class of compounds that overcome resistance to cancer drugs. There are drugs on the market that work very well for ovarian and testicular cancers … but with some patients you see initial remission and then the cancer comes back.

So what do you do? You can’t increase the levels of the drugs because they’re toxic. I’m working to find out why cancer in certain patients develops resistance to drugs while other patients do fine. If you can figure that out, you can create better drugs.

The (cancer curing) compounds that we found do not differentiate; they kill cancer cells at the same rate in both sensitive and resistant models. We’re doing preclinical trials with mouse models of both (resistant and sensitive) cell lines. We’ve worked with ovarian cancer, head and neck cancer, and now with testicular cancer.
   
  How did you get into this line of research?
   
  As a chemistry student, I understood that most diseases are caused and treated by chemical compounds, either organic or inorganic. Chemists can redesign, synthesize and reshape molecules based on what properties we want. I’ve always felt that I wanted to find out how the properties of compounds can best benefit society. So I decided to focus on cancer biochemistry.
   
  What are some things the College of Osteopathic Medicine is doing right?
   
  The college of medicine really seems to value collaboration and research. The way the world is moving, with constant advancements in biotechnology, proteomics—it’s moving too fast for a person to keep track of everything and still have the time to maintain a strong medical practice. It’s impossible. That’s why collaboration is essential.

COM is also expanding enrollment. This is good, because many universities and medical schools are having problems recruiting. But here there are just too many qualified students applying.

I’m very excited to work with Dr. Jack Brose, as well. I can see that he is a very capable leader.
   
  What do you think of the upcoming Academic and Research Center?
   
  The Academic and Research Center is a very exciting opportunity for biomedical engineering research. Dean Brose and Dean Irwin have been working very hard to create this synergy for their colleges.
   
  Your wife (Anima) is a fuel cell engineer, and she’ll be working at the Russ College of Engineering and Technology. Do the two of you ever collaborate on work?
   
  We’ve published some papers together. At one point I was studying some cancer compounds I discovered and wanted to toss some things out. I mentioned this to my wife over dinner, and she said, Really? Can I take a look? And my … we’ll say residue, became her treasure. She found that the compounds were catalysts that she can use in fuel cells.
   
  Do you have children?
   
  My son, Sanjeeb, is earning his Ph.D. in physics at Stanford. Before that he attended Caltech.

My daughter, Seuli—which is the name of a Bengali flower—is an M.D. She’s doing her double residency in internal medicine and pediatrics at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

This summer, my wife and I became grandparents! My daughter had a little girl, Asha, which is Bengali for
hope. My son-in-law, Christian, is in law school.
   
  Busy family! They must take after you …. Now, if you had free time, what would you do with it?
   
  I love soccer. I used to play in two different teams, until about five years ago. Then one day, I saw that the ball was coming at the optimal height for a bicycle kick, which is something I used to do a lot in high school. To do a bicycle kick, you have to turn your body between 180 and 360 degrees—usually you fall on your back. Anyway, I did the bicycle kick, and I hit the ball, but then I landed right on my shoulder and injured it. My wife said, Okay, that’s enough soccer.
 
 
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Last updated: 01/28/2016