“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also
dream; not only plan, but also believe. “This maxim has guided
Tanaji Talele, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical
Sciences throughout his career.
Born and educated in India, Dr. Talele earned his B.S., M.S. and
Ph.D. degrees in medicinal chemistry there. Determined to make
every minute count, he began his postdoctoral fellowship a mere
three days after receiving his doctorate. Explaining how he managed
to do this, he said, “early on, I learned that the most effective
way to achieve things was by transforming dreams into concrete
goals. This strategy has served me well.”
The postdoctoral fellowship was with the UMD-New Jersey School
of Medicine to conduct research on HIV AIDS and antifungal
Dr. Talele’s lifelong interest in cancer stems from a pivotal
family tragedy. “My sister died from a then-untreatable form of
cancer when she was only in the third grade,” he explained. (Dr.
Talele was in the first grade.) “Her untimely death is the driving
force behind my work and fuels my dream of one day developing a
molecule that can be harnessed to create a drug to treat
In 2005, while working at the renowned Moffitt Cancer Center in
Florida, Dr. Talele came across an advertisement for a tenure-track
professor at St. John’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. The position intrigued
him, especially because if he got it, he would be able to flex his
teaching muscles at an outstanding university. Invoking his
goal-oriented strategy, he applied and was hired within two weeks.
“I was absolutely thrilled to be offered the job,” he said. “Not
only does the College of Pharmacy have an outstanding reputation,
but I was also attracted by the University’s Vincentian mission. It is an
orientation that I share since I have always tried to use my skills
to help those in need.”
In his deliberate and thorough way, Dr. Talele took the time
before the term began to read studies on the art of teaching. This
helped him think about how he would balance his teaching and
research responsibilities; how to incorporate student-friendly
technology into the classroom and how to motivate students. “The
most essential thing I learned was the value of presenting abstract
theories by always linking them with actual work I am doing in the
The five Faculty Recognition Awards Dr. Talele has so far
received testify to how effective this preparation was. They are
conferred annually on the basis of quality of teaching, number of
grants and publications and nature and extent of service.
He has also made time to deliver food to disabled members of the
Sisters of Charity and to serve on the Graduate
Council where he is involved in committees looking into
curriculum and policy issues.
His ability to inspire students can be seen in the decision of
Maulik Patel ‘12Ph.D., to alter his plans and pursue a doctorate.
“I started working with Dr. Talele,” he said, “when I was in the
master’s program — he was my mentor. His enthusiasm for his work
was infectious and now I am partnering with him on a study on the
behavior of HIV strains towards a magic bullet.”
The study is being funded by the National Institute of Health
and by the University.
During the past four years, Dr. Talele has produced 25
publications, received coveted research grants,
delivered 15 lectures and presented more than 20 abstracts at
outside institutions. “My goal,” he said, “is to excel as a
teacher, while also contributing to the University’s reputation for
cutting-edge scientific research.”
“Dr. Talele is an outstanding researcher, teacher and
colleague,” said Robert A.
Mangione, Ed.D., R.Ph. and Dean of the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. “His innovative and important
contributions to the field of medicinal chemistry are matched by
his infectious enthusiasm for his subject matter. I am delighted
and proud that he is a member of our faculty.”