How Pradeep Ambrose helped fight a wave of COVID and became a ‘great friend of Bermuda’


When Pradeep Ambrose, PhD ’20, MBA ’21, enrolled in the one-year MBA at Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, the world had yet to hear about COVID-19, and the world university, virology was almost a dead field of study.

In this case, Ambrose’s PhD focused specifically on the study of RNA viruses. Back then, most of his classmates in the Physiology, Biophysics, and Systems Biology program at the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences were turning to the study of cancer for further career prospects. Ambrose, however, had a long-standing interest in investment management, so he enrolled in business school in the summer of 2020 through the Lee Family Scholarship. He loved the MBA experience and found a real talent to invest as a portfolio manager in the Cayuga Fund at the Parker Center for Investment Research.

Then, right after graduation, his MBA network unexpectedly led him to a larger-than-life experience.

An unexpected call from an MBA classmate

A few months after Ambrose graduated from business school, Ambrose received a message one evening from her classmate Danielle Boris, MBA 21. The country of Bermuda was in dire need of help, he said. she texted. COVID-19 cases were on the rise and they lacked qualified support. The leader of Bermuda, Prime Minister E. David Burt, had issued an urgent appeal for help. She asked if he could help.

Ambrose’s skills, fortuitously, turned out to be exactly what Bermuda needed.

Laboratory rescue and report to Bermuda leaders

Ambrose flew to Bermuda the next day, September 21, 2021. That evening, he went to the lab, a sky-blue, one-story structure that, before the pandemic, was a post office. There he met Carika Weldon, Director of the Bermuda Molecular Diagnostics & Research Laboratory, Science Advisor to the Government of Bermuda, and the only doctor on the island responsible for performing all COVID-19 tests for the entire population of the island.

His main task each day was to determine who was positive and who was negative. Due to the upsurge in infections, there has been a growing backlog of tests.

Weldon, who also had government-related duties, began to transfer laboratory responsibilities to Ambrose. He put in long hours to clear the backlog. A week into her stay, Weldon also transferred all government responsibilities to Ambrose, so she could take a much-needed break. Suddenly, Ambrose found himself reporting to the Bermuda government.

Putting MBA skills to work

Ambrose stayed in Bermuda for a month, until the wave subsided. His days consisted of working in the lab, attending cabinet meetings via Zoom, and speaking with the Prime Minister by phone or text. At first Ambrose was amazed at the weight of his responsibility and authority and the regular communications he had with a world leader, but it quickly became a part of everyday life.

For Ambrose, the management and leadership skills he learned in his MBA program at Johnson have become essential to running an entire lab and supporting the country’s COVID-19 testing. Every day, Ambrose tapped into his knowledge reserves to overcome new obstacles and dilemmas.

When the tide died down and Ambrose was about to leave Bermuda, the Prime Minister invited him to his office and thanked him with a letter of appreciation. It said, “You are a great friend of Bermuda, and we thank you again for all you have done. “

Collaboration underway between Weill Cornell and Bermuda.

After returning to the United States, Ambrose helped set up a collaboration between Weill Cornell, the government of Bermuda, and the New York Genome Center to study the development of the COVID virus on the island. He has also agreed to be on call when further surges occur on the island.

Like everyone else, Ambrose grows rich through direct experience. But some rewards are unique to him: a punch from the prime minister of a country, for one, as well as the image that comes to mind every time he thinks back to his first professional experience outside of school: palm trees, pink sand, calm ocean. waves and a lab in a sky-blue post office.

Susan Hu is the coordinator of the Parker Center for Investment Research.

Read more about Pradeep Ambrose on the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business News Site.