Featured Researcher: Patty McDonnell, PhD – Bristol Myers Squibb

Patty McDonnell, Ph.D.

Patty McDonnell, PhD

Senior Director, Enterprise Governance R&D

Central NJ


Patricia (Patty) McDonnell is senior director of Enterprise Governance for R&D at Bristol Myers Squibb in Central NJ. In this role, Patty facilitates the high-level decision-making process that guides the progress of programs and assets in the company’s R&D portfolio. 


She and her team use a specifically designed governance framework to bring cross-functional teams together at key stages throughout the product lifecycle from discovery through commercialization. The framework helps guide teams to engage in effective discussions and work toward solutions so they can make key decisions toward ultimately delivering innovative medicines to patients.


Patty is also a co-founder of the company’s STEM Council, a centralized effort to harness individuals’ expertise, experience and passion in STEM efforts across the company.  


“By sharing our passion for science and showing the world why our work is so important, we hope to attract a new generation of young scientists to STEM fields,” she said. “Down the road, these students will need to have the answers to the next set of complex challenges facing our industry. It's our job to make sure they’re up to the challenge so we can continue to bring new therapies to help patients in need." 


Patty said she hopes the STEM Council’s efforts will inspire more people to recognize the importance of investing their time in STEM education.


“We are focused on amplifying and illuminating what our colleagues are doing to demonstrate how they are directly impacting students in their local communities,” she said.


Patty began her career at Bristol Myers Squibb over 22 years ago as a principal scientist, where she spent over 14 years providing biophysical evidence across the portfolio to support discovery and early development teams in decision-making on assets and programs. She then served as director of Worldwide Medical Cardiovascular Content — where she led, facilitated and collaborated across markets to generate medical information and communications plans — before going on to serve in her current role. When asked what has kept her with the company for so many years, she attributes the innovative opportunities that have continued to keep her engaged and challenged, noting “each day is different.”  


Patty earned her PhD in chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania and has 36 peer-reviewed manuscripts, including three book chapters. She is a recipient of the Healthcare Businesswomen Association’s 2020 HBA Spark Award, a peer-to-peer recognition program which honors any HBA volunteer who has distinguished themselves through attitude, collaboration, leadership and community-building.

Interests and Expertise

Patty’s passion for science was shaped by the female role models in her family. Patty’s mother studied chemistry at a time when there was a very small percentage of women in the field. Her mother’s perseverance serves as a source of inspiration and led to Patty pursuing a similar path. Patty’s passion for science has now been passed along to her daughter who is majoring in science.


“My daughter helped me realize, regardless of the situation, there’s always more than one pathway or idea. Her generation studies and learns differently than I did, as from an early age, they are accustomed to the changing technology, working in teams and listening to all voices. As we face tomorrow’s scientific challenges, we must embrace diverse, alternative thinking and show young women in science that they definitely have a seat at the table.”


In her free time, Patty is an avid golfer of over 25 years, even winning a mixed golf tournament alongside her husband. This past year she was lucky enough to get a hole-in-one.  


Patty also enjoys making jam and credits her background in chemistry with helping her nail down the science of canning. She once made over 100 jars of jam for a colleague to give away at her wedding.


“My mother used to take me and my siblings to the fields to pick strawberries and make jam. I’ve carried on the tradition with my daughter, and she’s taken it to new levels by expanding to other fruits and creating personalized labels.”