GLOBAL GOENKARS IN FOCUS: Goan scientist leaves mark in pharma world - 2

GLOBAL GOENKARS IN FOCUS: Goan scientist leaves mark in pharma world - 2

Award-winning Goan scientist Dr Donald Pinto began his career at the experimental station of DuPont in the drug discovery division of medical products in Wilmington Delaware.

He subsequently moved to Bristol Myers Squibb pharmaceutical company in Princeton NJ through an acquisition, where he is currently pursuing molecular targets against cardiovascular diseases. He has been working in the pharma industry for 35 years to date.

“DuPont, a company that produced products such as Nylon and Kevlar and other fine chemicals, was an exciting place to begin my career, and my work centred around drug discovery,” said Dr Pinto.

“My research was in the areas of immunology and cardiovascular diseases, but it was in the latter that resulted in one of my most significant contributions. After nearly a decade of research along with a team of talented scientists, I was instrumental in the discovery of a novel oral anticoagulant apixaban. It took us nearly two years to perfect such a high-quality molecule and bring it to the market. This was proven in two landmark clinical trials (Averroes and Aristotle) comparing the efficacy and safety against aspirin and coumadin (warfarin). Currently, apixaban (Eliquis®) is approved for the treatment of atrial fibrillation (stroke prevention) and deep vein thrombosis (DVT/VTE) and is currently considered a standard of care for AF, and a leading small molecule pharmaceutical in the world. It is an honour to be associated with its discovery and especially for patients,” said Dr Pinto.

For the discovery of apixaban, he received DuPont’s highest award, the Sumit Award, the BMS Ondetti Cushman Award, Heroes of Chemistry Award by the American Chemical Society and the Sir James Black Award by the British Pharmacological Society for Excellence in Drug Discovery.

After all these years he adds, “Research must go on for the next molecular target, to address a specific need in the area of cardiovascular diseases. Currently, my interest resides in developing novel entities for the treatment of heart failure.”

“I had the benefit of having several compounds enter clinical trials, one of which has recently advanced to late-stage trials. In this industry, success is achieved by a combination of skill, hard work and the dedication and support of all my colleagues, where teamwork becomes even more important for advancing a new molecular entity,” said Dr Pinto.

Besides, being an author/co-author of over 100 peer-reviewed research articles and patents, he has been a featured speaker at various scientific venues describing his research findings.


Dr Pinto says he owes a lot of his success to his wife Blossom, and his three children, Kirk, Diane and Denise, who are quite successful in their own careers.

“I have been fortunate to have several colleagues and friends cheering me on and enthusiastic about my research. Living in Pennsylvania but near New Jersey, I am a member of the Goan association in NJ (GOANJ) and belong to a small Pennsylvania group known as GoaPA group who has membership spans across eastern USA (PA/NJ/NY/DE).”

He went on to add, “The GoaPA group is also known as the SFX novena group named after our patron saint in Goa. We meet regularly as a group for worship, discuss business needs and socialize. Our mission is to give back to our community in Goa, primarily in the form of monetary help to those in need and support the Mother Theresa home near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.”


Asked for his advice to fellow Goans, Dr Pinto replied: “My message to young Goans is simple, if my story inspires you, then set high goals with a determination to achieve them. Losing focus would lead to unfulfilled dreams and careers. A highly skilled education should be the cornerstone of your career and do not settle for anything less. You have one advantage we did not have when we were growing up in the 70s. Science and technology have come of age, and everything is available with the click of a button. Various courses or knowledge can be obtained via tutors, on the internet and on YouTube.”

“Growing up in the US allows one to interact with individuals with diverse backgrounds and skills. Embracing their creativity, skills and culture enriched me as an individual and has enhanced my outlook on life. Importantly, it made me appreciate what I have achieved today."

“We have a vibrant Goan and Indian community in the US and by no means I am the most over-achieving individual here. I feel so lucky to connect and interact with them. My dreams can be yours and so I urge Goans to stay focused, set high goals and have a determination to achieve them,” summed up Dr Pinto. 

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