Conferences archive > 2008 > SPEAKERS & ABSTRACTS

Villoo Morawala Patell

Educational Qualifications:

B.Sc. Osmania University, Hyderbad

M.Sc. Bombay University, Mumbai

Ph.D. University Louis Pasteur, Strasbourg, France

Post Doc. University of Gent, Belgium


Dr. Villoo Morawala-Patell is Founder, Chairperson and Managing Director of AVESTHAGEN LIMITED. AVESTHAGEN is global y recognized as a leading systems biology company with a unique model focused on the convergence of food, pharma  and  population  genetics.  A  convergence that  leads  to  continuous  and  path-breaking  innovations  in  predictive, 
preventive, personalised healthcare.

Dr.  Patel   started  her  professional  career  at  the  International  Crops  Research  Institute  for  the  Semi-Arid  Tropics (ICRISAT)  at  Hyderabad  in  1978.  She  worked  on  projects  on  the  biochemistry  of  nitrogen  fixation  in  legumes, standardizing a screening technique for drought tolerance, and on Heat Shock Proteins in Mil et and Sorghum, amongst other projects.

Dr. Patell’s Ph.D. studies  in  plant  molecular  biology  at  University  Louis Pasteur, Strasbourg,  France,  on  Fundamental aspects of the plant mitochondrial  genome, coming face  to face with the role of  each nucleotide and its importance in cis-, trans-, splicing and RNA editing, ignited a passion to learn and manage this information and develop new products. The  Ph.D.  was  fol owed  by  9  months  as  a post-doc  at the Ghent  University,  Belgium,  working  with  scientists from  all around the world that really sparked off her entrepreneurial spirit. She then returned to India with an idea rooted in her mind – to create a platform that would bridge Academia and Industry. Thus was the seed sown that would give birth, a few years later, to Avesthagen.

On  return  to  India,  she  established  herself  as  an  independent  scientist  and  principal  investigator  working  from  the National Center for Biological Sciences (NCBS)  with funding  from the Rockefeller Foundation and subsequently at the University  of  Agricultural  Sciences (UAS)  in  Bangalore  with  a  grant  from  IFCPAR,  the  Indo-French  Centre  for the Promotion of Advanced Research.

Dr. Vil oo  Morawala-Patell  experimented with different models on how best to create a sustainable  innovation platform for  the  nation.  In  1998,  she  registered  Avesthagen  as  a public-private  model  as  perhaps  the  best  way  to  build  an innovation  model.  The  public–private  model  found few  takers  from Academia,  Industry,  and  Financial  Institutions. The need for speed in gearing up for  the  2005 opening up of India to WTO was the trigger to go solo and to create a full private entity, Avestha Gengraine Technologies Pvt. Ltd in early 2000. A year later, ICICI Ventures, Global Trust Bank and Tata Industries invested 8 crores in the company, which was now settled in its new laboratories in the International Technology Park  at  Whitefield.  This  was  only  the  beginning.  Since  then  Vil oo  has  worked ceaselessly  to  build  the company and raised significant international funding, attracting foreign investors and partners who saw a potential in the young  Indian  biotech  sector  and  particularly in  this  fast  growing  company  with  its  promise  of  innovation in  predictive, preventive, personalized healthcare and Environment-Adjusted crops and Nutritionally enhanced seeds for  agriculture. Avesthagen now has 650+ employees, foreign investment stands at 31% today. Investors recognized that Avesthagen was unique.  Most Indian biotech companies survive by doing reverse engineering or contract work. Dr. Patell set out to give  Avesthagen  a  strong  focus  in  innovative  R&D  in  diverse  areas  such  as bioPharmaceuticals,  bioNutrition  and bioAgriculture.  Today,  the  company  has a  portfolio of 350  patents  filed,  continues to  build  and intensify  its  intellectual property through product commercialization. Dr. Patell has built a “business of Science” and developed a new model of “Science of Business” to deliver ideas to products. Collaborating with several giants of global industry has also been one of Dr. Patell’s far-sighted endeavours. Avesthagen has fruitful partnerships for co-development and research, with Cipla for  bioPharma  development  and manufacture,  a tie-up  with  France’s  Groupe  Limagrain  (the largest  seed  company in Europe) to create new varieties of seeds.  with bioMerieux for diagnostics and alliances with Groupe Danone, and Nestle Nutrition  and  Godrej  Industries.  Dr.  Patell  is  a  much  sought after  speaker  at  national  and  international  events  and conferences, and has given presentations at The Harvard University, at Stanford University  and the Kellogg Business School.

Dr. Villoo Morawala-Patel  was born on 18 June, 1955 in Navsari, Gujarat and grew up with her parents Dara Dinshaw Morawala and Daulat Sorabji Kasad, brother Mahiyar, and sister, Bakhtawar in Nizamabad, Telangana District. She went to Boarding School at Age 6. In 1978, she married Zareer, a jazz pianist, son of Dr. Rashida Reporter and Minoo Patell, and  has  two  daughters  Farah,  aged  26,  and  Sanaya,  aged  24.  They  are  both  Ph.D.  students  at  the  University  of Cambridge, UK and have recently joined Avesthagen as Board Members.

From the wisdom of ancient India to the global food and healthcare markets Can India make it?

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