"I've always loved to ask questions; questions about nature, questions about why things work the way they do, and why people suffer through diseases for which we don’t have cures. Science speaks to my sense of creativity, of asking questions, and trying to find answers for them."

Ayesha Sitlani, Ph.D.

Early on in her career, after completing her postdoctoral fellowship at Yale as a Jane Coffin Childs Fellow in Biophysical Chemistry, Ayesha had to make a choice: Continue in the world of academics or look elsewhere.

"I interviewed at MSD thinking, "Would I really like to be here?" And I was just blown away by the company's mission," she remembers. "We're here to find medicines for people. I get to apply the basic research that I have spent so many years doing to such a good cause. I try to solve some of the unmet medical needs out there. It's just an amazing, amazing opportunity."

In her 16 years at MSD, Ayesha has made an impact — as a scientist and as a leader.

"For a drug to make it, it involves people from many different strengths and experiences to come together and work as a team," she says. "You can't do it on your own. You shouldn't think you can do it on your own. It takes true collaboration between people, trying to find the best out of everyone, because drug discovery and development is really hard and truly takes a team to act as the champion."

As for the future, Ayesha wants to continue focusing her energy on those medicines that will help people the most. "Discovering new things and using that discovery to help people inspires me," she says. "I look around and see there is so much need. There are people who are dying at very young ages, at older ages, and families suffer as a result. At MSD, there's an opportunity for scientists to help change that. To use their hearts and minds to come up with solutions. That is what motivates me to come to work every morning."

Name: Ayesha Sitlani, Ph.D.

Title: Executive Director, Bioanalytical Development and Vaccines Clinical Assays

Education: B.A., Smith College; M.A., Columbia University; Ph.D., California Institute of Technology

Favorite Downtime Activity: Watching "Downton Abbey"

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