After being rejected 200-250 times for PhD to being rewarded by former President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, the life journey of Pritam Panda clearly serves as an inspiration for thousands of deprived kids.
From Ganjam to Germany: A sneak peek into Bioinformatics Scientist Pritam Panda’s incredible journey
From living in a thatched hut in a remote village of Ganjam district to being a scientist in world famous ‘German Cancer Research Center, the journey of Odisha’s pride, scientist Pritam Panda wasn’t a bed of roses.
The young scientist had to overcome several obstacles to achieve success and reach the height where he is today. After being rejected 200-250 times for PhD to being rewarded by former President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, the life journey of Pritam Panda clearly serves as an inspiration for thousands of deprived kids.
Early Life of Pritam Panda
Born in Belaguntha, he lived in a thatched hut with his single mother. Being a brilliant student from the beginning, he did his primary schooling in Baliguda and went on to study at the prestigious Navodaya Vidyalaya.
With just a meager salary of Rs 400, his single mother never let any obstacle come in her son’s studies. However, instead of taking the usual trend of becoming a doctor or engineer, he wanted to become a scientist from his childhood.
Speaking about his exclusive dream, Pritam said, “2018 was the turning point of my life. I had a huge fight with my mother, uncle and all my family members. They wanted me to take loan and start studying in the field of medical or engineering. However, I was adamant to become a scientist. I knew my family could not afford my medical or engineering expenses. So, I did not want to add the loan burden on them. Furthermore, I wanted to do something for Odisha. I wanted to gain name and fame by doing something for the country. That’s when the idea of Bioinformatics struck to me at the right time.”
Treatment for Cancer
Working as a scientist at the German Cancer Research Center, Panda has a vast knowledge on cancer and its treatments. He threw light on the various kinds of cancer and its treatment and revealed that the recent development in cancer treatment is ‘Next Generation Sequencing Technology.’
“A person’s full profile will be known just with a simple blood test using Next Generation Sequencing Technology. The simple test can easily detect if you will be affected by cancer in the future too,” said Pritam.
He further said that he has successfully treated around 1100 blood cancer (leukemia) patients of 5 years old and below from all over the world. “Seeing them (the children), I decided that we had to do something for them. And that’s when my knowledge on Bioinformatics came to my aid. Now, our treatment process has been doctrined through a journal and has been published for future studies.”
“The day is not very far when cancer patients will be cured just by taking medicines or vaccines. They don’t have to go through painful procedures. So, we are working on coming out with treatment to protect the immune system of a patient. Once the immune system is protected, cancer can easily be treated,” he added.
“Cancer is curable in first or second stage. But the condition complicates in the third stage like in the cases of Manisha Koirala and Angelina Jolie,” he added.
Covid-19 - A blessing in disguise!
While the whole world was under lockdown, Panda made the best use of the lockdown and published a research paper. He also had proposed at least 38 drugs by using Bioinformatics Study which is called ‘Drug Designing Study’.
“Among the 38 drugs was a drug for Asthma patients. As we know that Covid-19 affected the respiratory system, I had proposed that drug and today one of the biggest companies has started the clinical trial,” he said.
Journey of Entrepreneurship
After completing his double Masters, he approached KIIT for an internship and worked there for free for around 1.5 years. But, his wife inspired him to use his knowledge and do something bigger.
“My wife asked me why I was working for free. That’s when the idea of opening a company hit me. Then, I started the company that provides Bioinformatics service,” he said.
All credit to Enemies
Well, people tend to give all the credit to their family members after achieving success. However, Dr. Panda credits his enemies for helping him reach the height that he has reached now. He recalls how people would taunt his mom for being a single mother and speaking filthy things about her. Many even taunted him for being poor and lectured him on ‘aukat’.
Recalling an incident, Dr. Pritam shared, “Once I saw an aeroplane and asked a relative how much it would cost to fly in the plane. However, he said that I had no ‘aukat’ to fly in a plane ever and would always rot in poverty. This had affected me so much and I decided to prove him wrong. Now, that relative says that he is proud of me.”
He is happily married to the love of his life. Both of them studied together in BJB Autonomous College, Bhubaneswar. She was the pillar of strength for Pritam during his struggle days.
They have known each other since 2008 and were in a 15 years relationship. Now, they are happily married and are proud parents to a beautiful boy.
Aim for Future
“Why do we have to depend on other countries, be it for cancer detection or treatment? Why can’t we establish the same technology in India, and that’s my only dream and aim in life,” Pritam said.
Even after so much success, Pritam believes in living a down-to-earth life and attributes his success to his late grandfather, who was his guiding light during his growing days.