FEATURE4 July 2022

Abhinab Bhanja – Research Hero

Features People

The Market Research Society launched the Research Heroes programme to celebrate the sector’s unsung heroes. Abhinab Bhanja has joined the cadre of Research Heroes 2022.

Abhinab Bhanja, Head of Pharma Insights, Convosphere

S-aliAbhinab Bhanja is the head of pharma insights at Convosphere. Based in Bangalore, where he manages the local team, he is responsible for Convosphere’s portfolio of health and life sciences organisations.

During Covid-19, Abhinab supported multiple clients to help them better understand the shifting needs and struggles of patients in light of the pandemic through a social lens. One of his core focuses was to bring forward the voice of the critically-ill patients to pharma stakeholders, to help enable better access to treatment in these challenging times. 

By studying online conversational trends and consumer movements, Abhinab gleaned key insights to help pharma organisations tackle misinformation. One of the main projects was supporting a client in the successful development of a campaign for patients with a rare disease and in an immunosuppressant state.

Outside of Convosphere, Abhinab worked as a volunteer, joining a Covid-19 response team to help his local community cope with the pandemic. Additionally, Abhinab used his research skills to identify available hospital beds with oxygen support in his locality for critically-ill patients, helping to ensure patients received vital care.


What is the biggest challenge you have faced during your career?
A few years ago I made the transition from qualitative research to core data analytics. This was a challenge; not only was I expected to work on data analytics projects but also to lead a team of experienced data scientists while, at the same time, managing several client accounts. Although it was difficult at first, it wasn’t long before I realised that the basic principle remains the same: it’s all about understanding the key business question/s and finding the right solution to answer them.

I knew I was good at this – after all, I had plenty of  experience of doing exactly this in my prior roles. I used my expertise to look beyond the huge sets of data to identify the real consumer stories. This opened my mind towards the possibility of merging data analytics with patient-centric studies, which is what I do in my current role – leveraging social data to tell real patient stories.

What will be the next big trend or development in the research industry, and why?
In recent years within pharma and life sciences, we’ve witnessed an increased focus on the patient and improving the patient’s quality of life, primarily driven by patients’ proactivity and sense of responsibility to manage their own health. In general, patients have become better at expressing and communicating their needs and concerns, both online and offline.

I expect this shift towards patient-centricity will only grow bigger. We can already see the impact of this shift on real-world evidence (RWE) studies. Whereas previously these studies were almost exclusively conducted through PROMs (patient-reported outcome measures), many now rely on social media data, either in combination with primary data or on its own.

Who inspires you as a researcher?
There are indeed a few industry leaders and mentors whom I admire and respect for their vision and thought leadership in the field of research, who’ve supported me along the way and helped me become who I am today. But in my case, I would change the question to “what inspires you as a researcher?”

My desire to answer real life questions and deliver impact through data keeps me motivated throughout each and every project I work on. I’m proud that my research not only leads to commercial benefits, but also meaningful impact to the lives of people whose voice, concerns and challenges inform our findings and insights. The thought that my team and I contribute in improving the lives of these individuals serves as an inspiration and motivation every day.

View the full list of Research Heroes for 2022