An interview with Dr Bomi Framroze, Chief Scientific Officer of Hofseth Biocare ASA
Dr Bomi Framroze has served as Chief Scientific Officer of Hofseth Biocare ASA since 2010. A discovery scientist with an impressive career history, Dr Framroze has over 60 worldwide patents and publications in life sciences and chemical research.
Which begs the question: where do you start an interview with an esteemed scientist of this calibre? Following Dr Framroze’s lead, perhaps it’s best to take a step back and simply ask: why are you in research?
“I’ve actually been asked that question a lot – perhaps because I’ve been doing this for over thirty years now,” explains Dr Framroze, and continues:
“The first thing I can tell you is that research is a passion – a passion for wanting to understand the world around us. And it doesn’t just apply to my work. When I’m being driven to some place, I will often ask the driver about something I see. And very often his or her response is: ‘I’ve been driving up and down this road for 15 years and nobody has ever asked me about that before.’ Or the driver will say: ‘I’ve never actually noticed that before, but now that you mention it, that’s a very good question.’ That’s kind of how research is and how scientists are. And it’s been that way for me since I was a kid.”
This profound curiosity and innate passion for discovery has doggedly followed Dr Framroze into adulthood:
“Even when I first went to university, I would go to my normal classes during the day and then I would go into the research laboratory after the graduate students left – just to spend time in those surroundings. I was only 17 at the time and didn’t really know what I was doing in there. All I knew was that I just wanted to be around that. And I’ve always felt that if I surround myself with creative people, then I will somehow absorb that creativity. Hopefully I have.”
Based on Dr Framroze’s exceptional achievements throughout his career, it would seem that his pursuit of learning and creativity has most certainly paid off. At Hofseth Biocare alone, Dr Framroze has led key R&D successes – one of the most recent being the successful completion of the clinical trial programme of ProGo (Hofseth Biocare’s soluble protein powder produced from salmon) for the treatment of iron deficiency anaemia (IDA).
As further evidenced by Dr Framroze’s pioneering proprietary research on peptides, being a successful scientist also demands the courage to take a leap of faith and persevere in the face of conventional thinking. For many years, peptides (protein subunits that perform a wide range of essential functions in the body) were thought to be destroyed in the gut and thus disregarded as having no value in the development of new drugs and health products. But Dr Framroze saw it differently. He recognised the potential of peptides early on, just as scientists were discovering that they could in fact survive digestion and cross cell membranes and the blood-brain barrier.
Dr Framroze has since led the development of a pioneering enzymatic hydrolysis process that cuts the protein into peptides, which, in turn, form the basis of new, highly effective health products.
“It really boils down to curiosity and having the courage to think and say, ‘Okay, I’m going to look at it this way, even though I’ve read multiple articles and know of many smart people who claim that this is the wrong approach’,” muses Dr Framroze, and adds:
“Despite all that, I’m going to look at it this way and see where it leads me. I’m not willing to just accept the statement that, ‘Oh, this has been looked at before and has no chance of success.’ Why not? That should have an application. And I’ve been lucky enough to experience that making those kind of choices – the kind that stem almost entirely from curiosity alone – have proven to be worthwhile for me. For example, I worked with boron as an element in agrochemicals. When I initially explained what I wanted to do, people looked at me and said, ‘Nobody does this chemistry.’ But I was focused on one very simple fact: it’s an essential element for all living things. So why not look at it from an agrochemical perspective? And it led to some successes.”
Anyone who knows anything about Dr Framroze’s proprietary research in this field would no doubt regard that as an understatement; and it certainly reflects Dr Framroze’s noticeable humility. Which leads me to ask how someone who has achieved so much in their 30-year career could possibly have managed to fit anything else into their life story?
To which Dr Framroze concludes: “My work is my story. There’s nothing else.”