|Rajat Gupta, MD|
What impact did the Sarnoff Fellowship year have on your career?
The opportunity to work in a lab and interact with the community of Sarnoff Fellows changed the course of my career. I was an enthusiastic but directionless medical student, and found inspiration in biomedical research while working on a vascular immunology project with Andrew Lichtman, MD PhD at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Now I am a cardiology fellow at the same hospital, and am pursuing a career in the functional genomics of cardiovascular disease. My first exposure to this field was from projects that many brilliant Sarnoff Fellows presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting, and I’ve relied on the advice and guidance of the entire Sarnoff community as I’ve pursued a career in academic cardiology. It’s difficult to even imagine how I’d get to work in such an exciting field without the help and inspiration of the Sarnoff Foundation.
Why should medical students consider the Sarnoff Fellowship apart from other programs?
It cannot be overstated how important the life-long mentorship and support of the Foundation is in nurturing the passion of the many talented people that make up the Sarnoff community. It has been 8 years since I was a fellow, but the Annual Scientific Meeting remains my favorite time of the year. The scientific presentations are cutting-edge, and the informal discussions give me perspective on the whole range of fields in which former Sarnoff fellows work. There are leaders of private medical groups, biotechnology companies, and academic departments eager to lend their guidance and support. Many programs will pay for a one-year fellowship, but few have built such a vibrant community.
What are your professional aspirations?
As a cardiologist and physician-scientist I seek to prevent and treat cardiovascular disease. My research focuses on the discovery of novel genetic variants associated with cardiometabolic disease and understanding how these genetic variants influence gene function. I hope my work in this nascent field of functional genomics will result in new therapies and risk-prediction tools for myocardial infarction and congestive heart failure.
What is your greatest professional accomplishment?
As a medicine resident at Massachusetts General Hospital I won first place in the Clinical Research Day competition. The project was very simple—to genotype a small set of samples from Jamaica and compare the risk variants derived from a Caucasian population—but it introduced me to the field of medical genetics. It was my first time leading a research project, and gave me the confidence to pursue my current career. Of course the help of the Sarnoff Foundation was integral, and the second author on the paper was Kenechi Ejebe (2008-2009 Sarnoff Fellow).
What is your most memorable Sarnoff moment?
My first Annual Scientific Meeting in Washington DC (May, 2005) was an absolute blast. It was the 25th Anniversary, and hundreds of former fellows came to welcome my class. At bars around DC I didn’t pay for a drink all weekend, and was introduced the tradition of Friday night karaoke at a dive bar in Dupont Circle. Many of the people I met that weekend have subsequently interviewed me for residency and fellowship spots, and we tend to spend the entire interview reminiscing.
What are your hobbies?
I’m a rabid college sports fan. I enjoy watching Michigan football games and think March Madness is the happiest time of the year. When I go for runs along the Charles River in Boston I listen to the Michigan fight song and pretend I’m Charles Woodson. I have a pretty active imagination!