First Year, Academic Clinical Investigator Pathway
After finishing 12th grade (high school) in India, I sat for the All India Pre-Medical Entrance Test, which is required for entrance into medical schools in India on government scholarships. I started medical school at age 18 in 2004, and finished my 5.5-year MBBS degree in 2010. I worked for a year in a hospital in India and then worked as a research fellow at the Texas Heart Institute in Houston, TX, under the guidance of Dr. Biswajit Kar and Dr. Pranav Loyalka.
In 2012, I started internal medicine residency at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, TX. I then spent two years in an advanced cardiovascular imaging research fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic with Dr. Allan L. Klein. During my time at the Cleveland Clinic, I often moonlighted as a nocturnist, managing a large volume of complex cases. This experience not only sharpened my clinical acumen but also supported my visa. It also helped me generate funds to get a master’s degree in clinical research. I matched at Emory for cardiology fellowship in their four-year Academic Clinical Investigator Pathway.
When/how did you decide to pursue cardiology?
The nearest cardiac catherization lab was 2 hours away from my home town in India. Having access to a cardiologist often meant life and death in my home country. I was fascinated with the idea of being able make a difference in someone’s life. As a 3rd year Medical student I was captivated with the cardiac physiology while working in the rheumatic heart disease ward. I wanted to obtain the best training in cardiology, which led me to the United States. During my research fellowship at the Texas Heart Institute, I interacted with patients on ventricular assisted devices. It was mesmerizing to learn about the theory of counter-pulsation and what difference it could make in someone’s quality of life.
My passion for cardiology further intensified during my residency where I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Masood Ahmad on diastology and 3-D speckle tracking imaging. At the Cleveland Clinic, I was involved in developing a new methodology to quantify pericardial inflammation using cardiac magnetic resonance imaging. In addition, I learned to apply imaging and statistical tools to answer mechanistic questions in the field of structural intervention from Dr. Samir R. Kapadia. At Emory, my interest in cardiology grows every day as I learn to use mathematical models and fluid dynamics to answers what makes an atherosclerotic plaque ‘vulnerable’ and cause ACS.
My plan is to build a career in academic cardiovascular medicine with a focus on interventional cardiology, clinical investigation and education.
What is a typical day like for you?
The first 2 years of my fellowship are 80% research and 20% clinical. I am involved in multiple clinical trials which give me the opportunity to go to the cardiac catheterization lab. In addition, I am working on ground-breaking research that will help understand the pathophysiology of atherosclerosis. Currently, I am training to learn how computation fluid dynamic models can help us understand plaque progression. This involves understanding complex mathematical models and to have a firm grip on intracoronary imaging using OCT and IVUS.
The most memorable part of my days are the intense brain-storming sessions with my mentor Dr. Habib Samady, discussing projects and writing manuscripts. My continuity clinic is Wednesday afternoon at the Grady Hospital which is a county hospital affiliated to Emory. The unique quality about the Emory Program is that the program leadership really understood my interests and charted out a career plan which was a true amalgamation of my two big interests in cardiology: Cardiac Imaging and Intervention. My third and fourth years will focus more on clinical training at our high-volume teaching hospitals.
What advice do you have for applicants especially IMG applicants?
- Apply Broadly
- Form a research collaborative. Research is important for any cardiology fellow applicant, as it is an objective way for programs to assess an applicant’s research acumen. In my residency, we formed a group of hard working residents and helped each other on common research projects. This group produced more than 20 abstracts and publications. You might be great at statistics, have good writing skills or organization skills. It is important to develop a skill that helps you and the group.
- Persevere. Perseverance and continuous hard work eventually pays off. For example, my first five manuscripts were rejected by all journals. However, this experience helped strengthen my writing skills. What is important is to continue scholarly activities. As Thomas Edison once famously said, “I have not failed, I have found 10,000 ways that won’t work’’.
- Identify your mentors early and refer to the ACC’s IMG Corner which will have inputs to guide IMG residents interested in cardiology.
If you weren’t a physician, what would you be?
As a child, I recall wanting to be an air force pilot flying an F-16. I really like aerodynamics.
What’s your favorite thing about living in your city?
Atlanta is a very green city. There are multiple parks and walking trails. I really enjoy the diverse culture. There are multiple local Soccer and Cricket teams in the area. I have recently joined a Cricket team called the Georgia Hurricanes.