Chétna Rao

Board Member

Chétna Rao, PhD, serves as the head of global R&D STEM strategy for Bristol Myers Squibb, where she oversees STEM initiatives across the R&D landscape. She has been instrumental in the launch of STEM programming in the San Francisco Bay Area. She currently works to shape a diverse and inclusive culture and to build a talent pipeline for the next generation of innovative scientists. 

Chétna co-chairs the BMS STEM Council. In this role, she supports local students from elementary school through graduate school by creating opportunities 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.

Chétna has over 20 years of experience in the biopharmaceutical industry. Her well-established scientific record includes numerous patents and publications.  As a scientist, she contributed to the approval of three FDA-approved oncology treatment drugs, Bexxar, Yervoy and Opdivo.  Chétna 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. 

Chétna is a strong supporter of diversity and inclusion outside of her work as well. In her free time, she mentors girls and young women to help them understand their true potential and to ensure all ethnicities and races have a level playing field for opportunities to showcase their talent. She was awarded the top 100 most influential women in the Bay Area by the SF Business times in 2021.  Chétna is on the board of directors of California Life Sciences (CLS). 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).