Sadhana Chitale

Sadhana Chitale, PhD, MBA

Senior Director, Life Sciences/Technology Transfer
New York University


I started my career in the sciences with my graduate and post doctoral research work centered around the pathobiology of Mycobacteria, a genus responsible for two diseases (Leprosy and Tuberculosis) that cause significant public health problems. Before I made the transition to a career in technology transfer, I pursued an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh which allowed me to become more conversant with the business aspects of commercializing early stage scientific ideas. I joined NYU in 2001 and subsequently cleared my patent bar exam and secured a Certified Licensing Professional accreditation from the Licensing Executive Society.  My current role involves overseeing all life science related technology commercialization activities as well as running the translational drug discovery unit at NYU. I have been involved in helping graduate students, post docs and faculty members get their startups off the ground by providing early coaching on fund raising and making introductions to a network of early stage angel and institutional investors.  An 'intro to tech commercialization' course I developed since 2014 is now offered as an accredited course at NYU. Through my publications I have highlighted the challenges faced in developing early stage ideas and have shed light on the issues that scientific founders of companies need to be aware of. I have also been involved in developing a knowledgeable and effective workforce capable of translating ideas into the public realm by teaching and lecturing on a variety of topics spanning from patenting, licensing, venture creation to deal negotiation. 


What experience do you have working on or with a strategic Board of Directors? 

As the Senior Director of Life Sciences Technology Transfer at NYU, I am constantly interacting with boards of companies that have spun out of the university. Additionally, I sit on the advisory board of the Parekh Centre for Interdisciplinary Neurology and as a review committee member on the Advisory Board of the Centre for Translational Initiatives at NYU. Outside of work, I  work closely with the Board of an eye hospital in Mumbai that conducts pro-bono eye surgery clinics in rural India to organize international fundraising efforts.  

Please include a brief description of your volunteer experiences within AUTM. 

I have been an AUTM member for 22 years and during that time, I have served on the Annual Meeting Planning Committee for over ten years helping select relevant topics and guiding speakers on content. I have also participated in various panel discussions at annual and regional meetings. In addition to my volunteer work within the organization, I have published five articles in Nature Biotechnology covering entrepreneurship, licensing, deal making, patenting and lessons learnt in licensing. I wrote these articles with the goal of sharing knowledge with the community and hoping no one had to make the mistakes I made! 

Why do you want to join the AUTM Board of Directors? 

Working at a leading institution like NYU means that I have the good fortune of being involved in a large number of licensing deals ranging from traditional licenses for large companies to helping startups get launched. This deep transactional and deal making experience is a skill that is essential for the technology transfer work force of the future. Empowering new and existing AUTM members to learn such skills, adapt, and be successful in this constantly changing environment by advocating for such program offerings by AUTM will be my priority.  

Have you served in a volunteer leadership role for other organizations? If so, please explain. 

I am on the program planning committee for Business Development and Translational Medicine for the BIO International Meeting. I also created and run the Women in Licensing  (WIL) Group in New York City which has evolved over the past few years to include colleagues from neighboring states and Washington, DC.  

If elected by the Membership to the Board, would you consider serving as Chair? Please explain. 

Yes, I would consider this but perhaps more seriously after a year or two of serving on the board. 

Please share personal strengths that you believe would be valuable to the AUTM Board and/or the strategic direction of the Association. 

My greatest strength is my ability to work collaboratively and patiently with various stakeholders in challenging work environments without losing sight of the goal. I have learned how to be creative in finding solutions to potential roadblocks.  

I am also a great believer in mentoring and giving back. I have run a very successful internship program here at NYU and several of our interns are now successfully placed in industry. My first ever intern is now CEO of a venture backed clinical stage biotech company!  

Lastly, I believe a key mandate of AUTM should be to continue being a relevant force in the field of Technology Transfer in the coming years. I believe we will witness this profession evolve in terms of what is required of us to be successful at technology commercialization. At NYU we have already taken steps to be at the forefront of this evolution and I would be happy to share the lessons I learned in implementing such programs and create a roadmap for others wanting to do the same. 

What special experience do you have in driving and implementing a strategic plan? 

In addition to the Technology Transfer activities , I manage the translational drug accelerator program at NYU. This involves managing internal and external stakeholders, contracts, budgets and deadlines unlike those seen for IP management and licensing. This has provided me with a great experience in developing plans, setting goals, detailing concrete steps in execution of such goals, identifying the team that will execute the plan and thinking through what the criteria would be to measure success. In addition to the above program, I was involved in getting our venture fund off the ground by putting together the right board for the fund, helping companies pitch to the fund and assisting with the required diligence.  

How do terms of  the position (both responsibilities and time commitment) fit with your other responsibilities? Will you have any conflicts of commitment between your full-time position and your volunteer time on the AUTM Board? 

Time Management is a required skill for all of us in TTOs and I see this Board position as a responsibility and opportunity that will only add additional insights to my role at NYU. I have the support of Marc Sedam, past AUTM Chair and the VP for Technology Opportunities and Ventures at NYU, in my application for the Board position. 

AUTM is committed to addressing issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion both on the Board and on behalf of our Members. Briefly describe how your experiences can contribute to the Association’s growth in this area.

I founded the Women in Licensing (WIL) initiative in NYC in 2007 with 7 group members with the goal of providing a network for other women in licensing to discuss professional challenges. As of 2022, WIL has over 200 members and prior to the pandemic, hosted three to four events per year  for its members to meet in person and discuss various issues. I am proud to say WIL has become a great resource for its members looking to network and find opportunities, as well as for those looking to stay abreast of recent developments in the field. This experience in starting and sustaining an initiative will come in handy in setting directions for new EDI programs for AUTM. 

Advocacy for the innovation ecosystem is something AUTM has promoted recently.  How do you think AUTM should continue to be involved? 

AUTM’s advocacy works as demonstrated by the recently announced CHIPS and Science Act by the government and perhaps will prove to be the contributing factor for many tech and biotech ecosystems flourishing all over the country. The funding of TTOs embedded in the Act is a great opportunity for AUTM to step in and aid local ecosystems in need of such guidance. AUTM should continue these efforts so that innovation hubs can be set up in not just major cities but in underrepresented areas as well. 

Is there anything else you would like AUTM Members to know about you before they vote? 

AUTM has played an important role in my career by providing me with learning opportunities and has offered an amazing network of peers who I can call/email for help with a question. This generosity of our peers in sharing knowledge and information is what makes AUTM unique, and I would welcome an opportunity to contribute back to an organization that has given me so much.