Featured Researcher: Chetna Rao – Bristol Myers Squibb

Chetna Rao, PhD

Chetna Rao, PhD

Head, Site Strategy & Operations

Redwood City and San Francisco, CA


Chetna Rao heads Site Strategy & Operations at our Redwood City site and plays a central role in building a diverse and inclusive culture. She sits on the senior leadership team to develop the vision and strategy for the site. As the operational head, Chetna manages multiple functional areas: finance, accounting, administration, D&I as well as STEM initiatives for the Bay Area. Her responsibilities include managing and executing research, capital and service expenses, and procuring lab services as well as contract labor. She develops strong partnerships not only internally, but also externally as a conduit for state and government affairs. 


Chetna co-chairs the Research & Early Development STEM Council and has been instrumental in launching BMS STEM programs in the Bay Area. In California, she spearheads the STEM initiatives to support local students from middle school through graduate school that help expose students to STEM subjects, ignite and sustain their curiosity about science and provide resources to help them pursue academic and career interests in STEM. The program aims to nurture the next generation of young scientists while also providing access to equal opportunities for students in historically excluded communities who have a passion for science.


Chetna is a strong supporter of diversity and inclusion outside of BMS as well. She is on the board of Directors for the California Life Sciences (CLS) and a member on the talent pipeline sub-committee for CLS Racial and Social Equity Initiative where she works to promote the development of the STEM education pipeline to help students in historically excluded communities achieve success. She serves as the BMS representative for the Bay Area Council’s Science and Innovation Consortium (BASIC) group, and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG). 


Prior to this role, Chetna was the director of Protein Engineering at Bristol Myers Squibb. She has 20+ years of experience in antibody drug conjugation, antibody discovery, protein chemistry and biotechnology. She holds a PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology from the University of Florida and was a post-doctoral scientist at the University of California Davis. She holds numerous patents and publications for developing novel methods for bioconjugation of payload linkers, characterization of ADC therapies and discovery of structure-function of enzymes. In her role as a scientist, Chetna has contributed to the approval of three of the company’s prominent drugs.

Interests and Expertise

Chetna 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.  


Chetna 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 Chetna’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.