Ananya Zutshi develops a novel therapy to combat cancer


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Boston, MA

Zutshi’s desire to help fight cancer isn’t just a business choice – it’s personal as well. Her father died from cancer. At the time, some of the first cell-based therapies were in clinical trials, but none could treat his specific disease. Years later as a Blavatnik Fellow, the more she studied cancer and existing therapies, the more Zutshi wanted a new approach. “There are a lot of treatments in the world that are iteratively better,” Zutshi said. “And those are important. We need those treatments.”

Ananya Zutshi wanted a career in pharmacology biotech. She studied biomedical engineering as an undergraduate at Duke University, where she participated in genetic and tissue engineering research. Zutshi originally planned to pursue a Ph.D., but instead spent 4 years at Catalent Pharma Solutions, a leading pharma/biotech contract manufacturing development organization.

Realizing her excitement around being part of the team, Zutshi decided not to pursue a Ph.D. However, she now knew that she likely needed another advanced degree to be a decision maker in an industry like pharma/biotech. Zutshi joined the second-ever cohort of students in the MS/MBA in Engineering Sciences degree run jointly by the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and Harvard Business School (HBS).

During her time at Harvard, Zutshi discovered the power of entrepreneurship and translation of novel technology. Within a year of leaving Harvard, Zutshi had founded and become CEO of her first company: Guardian Bio, a pharma-biotech company developing a novel therapy to combat cancer.

“Entrepreneurship wasn’t something that had ever been on my radar before Harvard,” said Zutshi. “I found it so powerful, the idea of marrying the technical and business side of things. I love the technical side, am so proud of my engineering training and will call myself an engineer forever. But I recognized that my strengths and experiences are well suited for the business side of drug development.”

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