Featured Researcher: Chetana Rao – Bristol Myers Squibb

Chetana Rao, PhD

Chetana Rao, PhD

Head, Site Strategy & Operations

Redwood City and San Francisco, CA


Chetana Rao, PhD, serves as the head of Site Strategy and Operations for Bristol Myers Squibb’s Redwood City and San Francisco sites, where she manages operations in multiple cross-functional business areas including finance, accounting and administration. She also leads Diversity & Inclusion initiatives for these two Bay Area sites, where she is focused on building a diverse workforce and fostering an inclusive culture. 


Chetana holds a seat on Bristol Myers Squibb’s STEM Council, which guides the company’s approach to supporting science, technology, engineering and mathematics education. She has also been instrumental in launching the company’s STEM program in the Bay Area. In California, Bristol Myers Squibb supports local initiatives from kindergarten through graduate school to help expose students to STEM subjects, ignite and sustain their curiosity for science, and provide resources to help them pursue academic and career interests in STEM. The program aims to nurture the next generation of scientists while also providing access to equal opportunities for students from historically excluded communities who have a passion for science. 


“I want to invest now in these kids and these schools so that we as a society can reap the benefits five to 10 to 20 years from now,” she said. “Such an investment not only supports our company’s mission to help patients prevail over serious diseases, but also benefits the community as a whole by making science accessible to underrepresented minorities, offering exciting careers in science, and nurturing talent as one of the key resources for our future.” 


Chetana joined Bristol Myers Squibb in 2009 and has more than 20 years of experience in the world of drug discovery, in antibody drug conjugation, antibody discovery, protein chemistry and biotechnology. She has a well-established scientific record, with more than 20 papers published in peer-reviewed journals and more than 25 global patents. 


Chetana earned her PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology from the University of Florida, where she earned the Best Thesis Award from the College of Medicine. She worked as a post-doctoral scientist at the University of Florida and the University of California, Davis.

Interests and Expertise

Chetana is an avid supporter of diversity and inclusion outside of Bristol Myers Squibb as well. She is a member of the California Life Sciences Association (CLSA) talent pipeline sub-committee for Racial and Social Equity. She also serves as the company’s representative for the Bay Area Council’s Science and Innovation Consortium (BASIC) group, part of the Bay Area Council.  


Chetana also gives back to the Bay Area community by volunteering at and helping to obtain grants for a local food bank that provides meals in historically excluded communities. 


When Chetana’s not spearheading STEM and D&I initiatives for BMS, she is either walking the trails at the foothills of Mount Diablo or practicing yoga. She also loves cooking and shares her home cooked meals with her neighbors on weekends.