Interview with Tejal Desai by Alexa Rocourt

Q: In a couple sentences, tell me about what you do in your work.

A: I’m a bio-engineer, and I’m interested in working on ways that we can improve the delivery of medicine to the body, and ways in which we can help the body heal itself.

Q: What’s your favorite part about being a scientist?

A: Working with a talented group of students, postDocs, and other faculties, and also being able to discover new things every day.

Q: What have you created or discovered that you are most proud of?

A: Several different things. Here are two examples: We have developed ways in which we can deliver proteins to the eye for people who are going blind. We’ve also developed ways that we can deliver cells into the body to help with Type 1 Diabetes (over the course of about 10 years).

Q: At the end of the day, why does your work matter?

A: It matters because we are really trying to improve patients’ lives by making it easier to get the therapy that they need, safer, and more effective. The technologies that we are developing can hopefully do that in a variety of different disease settings.

Q: Outside of work, what do you do to relax?

A: I have three children, so a lot of my time goes to doing activities with them. But I love to travel, explore restaurants, hiking, learning about new places in the city. I definitely have learned to find a balance between work and personal life.

Q: What situation do you think you’d feel the most out-of-place in? What is something that makes you uncomfortable?

A: I used to be very very shy when I was young, so I had to take lessons on how to speak publicly. Now I’m very comfortable speaking in front of large groups, but when I’m in a room with senior faculty, I still have to remind myself that it’s ok to speak up and share my opinions.

Q: In 100 years, what do you want to be remembered for?

A: As a bio-engineer who had a profound impact in patients’ lives, and a mother and wife that helped to shape my family’s lives too.