Dr Debojyoti Dhar | Leucine Rich Bio Pvt Ltd
India’s Microbiome Man Dr Debojyoti Dhar is looking within - all the way into the microbiomes that swim inside the human system - for answers to some of healthcare’s biggest problems.
The real legacy of COVID-19 – the pandemic that threw the planet out of gear in a way never imagined possible – isn’t the poignant loss of lives (which remains heartrending) or the heroic tales of frontline warriors (which will go down in history as legend). It is the vulnerability of healthcare as a sector to the vagaries of nature. How prepared really are we for the next coronavirus, therefore? Silent crusades of firm willed visionaries like Dr. Debojyoti Dhar – unfurling in microbiology labs where scientists burn the midnight oil in quest of the next big breakthrough - assure us that at least efforts are on in full earnest.
Dr. Debojyoti Dhar is the Co-founder and Director (Business Development & Innovation) of Leucine Rich Bio Pvt Ltd - South Asia’s first microbiome company. Decoding microbiomes – and the miracles they are capable of – is the raison d’etre of Leucine Rich Bio, Dr Dhar’s brainchild and ‘labor of love’. A leading microbiome-based research and clinical solution provider in India operating in the sweet intersection of genome research, technology and raw gut (the pun is intended), Dr Debojyoti Dhar’s Leucine Rich Bio is part of the ‘Global Elite of Microbiome Companies’. Its dual focus lies in Preventive Medicine and Precision Medicine.
Dr. Dhar (Ph.D. scholar in molecular biology from IISc Bangalore + Post Doctoral research, UMass Medical School, USA) has held several leadership positions in the corporate world (R&D, BD, Corporate Communications, Consultancy) in the past. He boasts multiple publications in top-tiered peer-reviewed journals and is a regular keynote & guest speaker at conferences, institutes and both social and mainstream media (Economic Times, Indian Express, The Hindu Business Line, Chronicle PharmaBiz). The man’s rich and eventful journey, however, is merely a trailer to his big dream, his real pursuit - the mission he leads at Leucine Rich Bio. One that has the power to change healthcare as we know it.
The concept Debojyoti and his teams are working on – one that unlocks greater fascination in him with every passing day – is the Microbiome’s complex yet profound influence on our holistic wellbeing.
For the uninitiated, the human body is host to a huge array of microorganisms – be it bacteria, fungi, viruses or single celled organisms known as archaea. Collectively christened ‘the human microbiota’, our body’s microbiome is the sum of all the genes our microbiota contains. Sure, they often cause sickness, but most of the time, microorganisms live in harmony with their human hosts, providing vital functions essential for human survival.
Explains Dr. Dhar, “I am really intrigued by the role the microbiome plays in our health and wellness and I wish to explore this in depth. Micro-organisms do not merely reside in us - they define our essence, habits and lifestyle in profound ways. Technology is now providing us with the tool to understand this relationship. I strongly believe that in very near future, microbiome will dictate diagnosis, prognosis and therapeutics of many diseases. It won’t be a stretch to say that it can upend the paradigm of healthcare itself.”
If not in so words, Dr. Dhar’s conviction is, at least in spirit, shared by right-thinking academicians, corporates and governments around the world. After all, the healthcare sector is a mammoth global engine that runs the risk of turning into a burden (at various levels, for various stakeholders of the economy) unless it can come good on its many promises. In many ways, we may be approaching an inflexion point - a tipping point, to borrow a popular phrase – where we will be compelled to demand answers. The next big breakthrough will – nay, must - change the game to save the world. “If we don’t shift the focus to new thoughts and fresh insights that can help us understand health and diseases better, we may keep winning our little feelgood battles, but are sure to lose the war. COVID-19 is a glaring case in point. We need to invest in healthcare, life science and research to tackle such emergencies in future. The goal must be broader and greater than our myopic individual mandates”, avers Debojyoti.
Genomic approaches have gained tremendous attention over the past few years, allowing the healthcare fraternity align towards precision medicine. It has generated frenetic interest among researchers, clinicians, corporates and consumers who trying to understand its effects of health and wellness. Despite that, several knowledge gaps persist. This is where Leucine Rich Bio has a hero’s role to perform. If the team can muster the courage to take the vital leaps of faith into the scary unknown, and back itself especially when the chips are down, it could stake its claim to the enviable epithet of ‘Those who changed the course of history’
The operative principle of the microbiome – ‘synergistic and cooperative living’ – happens to be a universal theme that finds resonance and validation at every level of life. Indeed, it is something that, according to Dr Debojyoti Dhar, holds the key to far greater secrets in nature. He shares, “As a scientist, I have a natural curiosity for the multi-functional approach to life. And in that context, the role of the microbiome has added a new dimension. Like life itself, the study of microbiome has thrown up both innumerable challenges and untold possibilities. Working in this field has gifted me novel new perspectives on how we live, think, behave and work vis-à-vis those who co-inhabit our spaces - be it at a microscopic level, or otherwise.”
A journey that is driven by vision needs a very special brand of fuel to keep it going. So what runs his own engine, so to speak? What, indeed, is Dr. Debojyoti Dhar’s success mantra? As it turns out, it is a timeless tool called patience. Wielded judiciously, however, it can be more potent than the most modern of technologies. Shares the seasoned Idea Leader with a deep smile, “Research life had taught me that, like failures in experiments, there would be failures in life but one has to be patient and always try to think about new solutions to weather the storm and come up with a good plan of action. The mantra of Patience is a time-tested virtue. Any leader who wishes to bring success in his personal and professional life understands its importance.”
Today, patience is the operative philosophy that informs everything Dr. Dhar does - be it in my avatar as a researcher or my role as an entrepreneur. It is, of course, easier to be patient when one has 100% confidence in one’s ability, and the hard work one is investing. In his own words, “When I see my team members putting in enormous amounts of hard work, the belief - that the right thing will happen at the right time – only grows stronger.”
In a VUCA era, it is easy for the new generation to fall prey to distractions and miss the wood for the trees. Between the lure of get-rich-quick careers or the allure of unicorn funding, there is need to pause and locate the ‘inner space’ between the extremes. Pepper the enthusiasm, as it were, with sufficient dosages of good old fashioned values like patience, diligence and humility. Dr Dhar agrees, adding “I would also urge future leaders to be more empathetic towards their professional colleagues – and to everyone in general. Empathy is the X-Factor that can balance your equation and positively impact the outcome of individuals and organizations.”
When we coax him for a short line or two about voice of healthcare, and how tribute profiles such as Idea Leaders are important to add direction, inspiration and positive energy to the healthcare community, India’s Microbiome Man Dr Debojyoti Dhar, and an ‘explorer’ certain to skew healthcare’s journey with his own spin, shares generously, “VOH is indeed a very interesting concept. Curating the experience and insights of professionals, especially in the healthcare domain, is paramount - since it can act as a catalyst for knowledge osmosis, unite silos and pre-empt the reflex to reinvent the wheel. This platform provides this unique opportunity".
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