Weber Shandwick's Arun Divakaruni joins Avant Healthcare as chief science officer

The healthcare specialty firm is owned by DWA Healthcare Communications Group.

CHICAGO: Medical communications agency Avant Healthcare has hired Weber Shandwick’s Arun Divakaruni for the newly created position of chief science officer.

Based in Chicago and Indianapolis, Divakaruni said he will oversee a team of more than 30 staffers, including writers, editors and doctors. His start date was June 17. 

Avant specializes in medical communications for the pharmaceutical industry, helping to identify and craft stories for treatments and making sure that information is disseminated to the appropriate healthcare professionals, Divakaruni explained.

Divakaruni has a doctorate in biochemistry and molecular biology from the University of California, Los Angeles. In the new role, he will create scientific positioning for clients’ products and services, such as communicating how an advancement fits into the historical, current and future medical landscapes, Divakaruni explained.

"We wanted to make sure our clients knew we were staying abreast of and had lines of sight into the rapidly changing scientific environment," he said about why the role was created. "It’s important to make sure our services and teams are best equipped to figure out solutions to complex problems."

Divakaruni is reporting to Debra Wood, founder and CEO of Avant parent company DWA Healthcare Communications Group, which also owns healthcare education company Forefront Collaborative and Avail, a speaker bureau and meeting planning services company.

Divakaruni will also work in integrated digital strategy and regulatory and pricing comms, the latter of which was the background of his experience at Weber Shandwick, where he was SVP of its Element Scientific Communications group, which launched in 2013.

Divakaruni said there are myriad constituencies to address in medical communications, including the government, caregivers, patients, doctors and insurance companies.

"Avant’s unique value is in understanding and making that science relatable," he explained. "You can talk more technically to physicians about the benefits and risks of a medicine and what doctors need to be aware of. You have to talk at a different level with those other groups, but ultimately as a science-based organization with science-based clients, the core of that message is ultimately the same."

Divakaruni worked at Weber for 12 years and was in charge of the integration of ReviveHealth, which was acquired in 2016. He was also a member of PRWeek’s 40 Under 40 list that year.

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