Interview with Chockalingam “Palani” Palaniappan, Ph.D, Chief Innovation Officer, Ortho Clinical Diagnostics
Thursday, May 5, 2022
Source: Rochester Business Journal
Years in current role: 2+
What do you enjoy most about your role?
My job is to inspire and unite the best and brightest minds to create solutions that positively impact people’s lives.
At Ortho, we never lose sight of the patients we serve. Each day, we impact about 800,000 patients, with roughly a million tests. These tests help clinicians make the right diagnosis, quickly and accurately, as well as ensure a reliable, safe supply of blood for patients who need transfusions.
I’m always looking to increase the impact of our technologies, advance care and improve access to and the affordability of care so people everywhere live longer, healthier, happier lives.
It’s the best job in the world — Because Every Test Is A Life™.
What has been your organization’s biggest success over the past year?
I am so proud of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic and humbled by the number of lives we’ve touched with our testing solutions. We’ve worked tirelessly together to help answer two of the biggest questions of late: First, do I have COVID-19? Second, do I have immunity to SARS-CoV-2?
When the world needed reliable, fast, high-throughput testing solutions, Ortho answered the call. We’ve brought to market five tests that together have played an important role in the world’s ability to respond to COVID-19. This has helped patients and their caregivers, families and their communities, nations and the world.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve dealt with over the past year?
Like so many other companies, we’ve faced challenges with supply chain, pricing and staffing, and the need to manage the impact of COVID-19 on our workforce from a business continuity perspective.
As a leader, I’ve felt the call — now more than any other time in my career — to help my teammates manage the impact of all of these challenges, so that together we are mentally and physically able to deliver excellence. When the days are long, when many traditional support networks have fallen away, when there is so much uncertainty and yet such important work to be done, taking care of the team is key — that’s the gift of being a leader.
What do you see as the biggest changes in the technology industry over the next year?
I find the ever-increasing speed of innovation exhilarating and exciting — we can expect so many positive changes in the next year and years to come. Within the health care sector, several key trends will continue to evolve. For example, the digitization of health care and the personalization of medicine including genomics, biometrics, cellular therapies, like CAR T, and other exciting innovations. I am thrilled that my work contributes to the democratization of health care, as technology and innovation improve the affordability and accessibility of health care all over the world.
What community organizations do you support as a volunteer and why?
I was raised in a small village in India and can remember studying by a hurricane lamp as our town did not yet have electricity. Looking back, I could never have imagined a world where technology is so affordable and accessible that my 80-year-old mother is able to effortlessly manage her diabetes with an insulin pump, or FaceTime me from her phone at any time of day or night. So, in addition to serving on several boards within my field, I also work with a school in India, Thop E-Cell, with students who aspire to change the world. These kids are generally from underprivileged and modest backgrounds. My role is to offer perspective and inspiration, to be sure they see the tremendous possibility all around them. I’ve done my job when their dreams include the stars and the moon, and they truly believe anything is possible.
I’ve also been very involved with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, from a fundraising perspective, where I’m working to fuel the incredible innovation taking place today in the world of cancer treatment.