Radhika Gupta knows there is a clear connection between the worlds of science and business. “Science,” she tells us, “offers the answers to a better future for humanity, and business serves as the vehicle by which we travel forward to this future.” It has been a hope of Radhika’s since early on to be in the “driver’s seat” of this process. Attending Biotechnology High School in New Jersey, an International Baccalaureate world school, fostered Radhika’s focus on biotechnology and intensive research, leading to a position as an Immunotherapeutics Researcher at Harvard Medical School in the summer of 2014. While at Harvard, Radhika’s research involved engineering stem cells in attempts to deliver immunotherapeutic molecules and anti-cancer drugs through biodegradable nanoparticles. Upon graduating from high school in 2015, Radhika started exploring the business side of health care by taking a marketing internship at Johnson & Johnson, implementing her knowledge to help streamline the use of scientific, data-driven analytics in the marketing claims for the company’s baby products.
“Business men and women are needed,” Radhika states, “who can not only understand the science behind emerging technologies, but can also convey the significance and purpose of these innovations to the general public.” To nurture this dual perspective, Radhika applied to the Roy and Diana Vagelos Program in Life Sciences and Management at Penn. Through LSM, Radhika’s goal is to further her knowledge of the constant advancements in life-altering technologies, while acquiring continued communication skills to market these gains.
Then last summer, Radhika’s eyes were opened to another aspect of science and health care she hadn’t previously appreciated. Through a grant awarded by Wharton’s Global Research Internship Program, Radhika took a position at the London School of Economics and Political Science, pursuing health economics research. Living in Canary Wharf, the city’s financial district, Radhika’s summer was flooded with reports of the then upcoming Brexit decision. With the vote to leave the EU, financial markets plummeted along with the value of the pound– the effects of which, Radhika notes, were felt by research universities, biotechnology labs, and hospitals all around the world. Although Radhika already had an appreciation for the complex intersection of economics and healthcare, she had never truly appreciated the roles that politics and public policy can play. To better understand these relations, Radhika joined Penn Wharton PPI’s Public Policy Research Scholars program.
Radhika’s policy interests lie within healthcare policy, such as the Affordable Care Act. As science continues to advance, Radhika recognizes that the availability and accessibility to new innovations often lag behind their need. “I am interested,” she states, “in understanding the role that government must play in regulating access to health care, as well as understanding interactions between the government, medical technology corporations, and insurers, in this process.” In studying the policies that gave rise to our current healthcare system, Radhika hopes to be part of the movement by which healthcare expenditures can be reduced, insurance premiums can be lowered, access expanded, and health quality is improved overall.