Purnanand Sarma: A lifetime of achievements with more work to be done

Portrait of Sarma

Purnanand Sarma: A lifetime of achievements with more work to be done

In 2018, we talked with alumnus Purnanand Sarma, ‘92, about getting his PhD at the College of Pharmacy, his work in product development and his career in pharmaceutical industry leadership.

Since that interview, Sarma has continued his esteemed trajectory in the profession. He is now the president and CEO of Immunonome in Exton, Pennsylvania, a novel discovery platform company based on deep interrogation of memory B-cells from patients. Less than 18 months after joining, he successfully completed its initial public offering

For his many career accomplishments to this point, Sarma was awarded the TiE Boston 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award in December. The impact of this work, he says, demonstrates the power of technology to help people. 

“Historically, technology was used to primarily provide greater convenience to patients. However, some of my work has demonstrated that technology can enable breakthrough products that can make a significant difference in clinical outcomes and improvement in patients’ lives.”

As for what lies ahead, Sarma says, the work will be in learning from patients. 

“Just as we see economic disparity, we must recognize there is also immune disparity. That is, some individuals have a greater success in fighting their disease than others. Can we use learnings from patients who successfully fought a disease to help those who can’t? It is a quest but I am on that path right now.”

Sarma encourages current students to follow this lead. “Keep the patient as the focus. Any advance we make should primarily be in the best interest of the patient.”