Tell us a bit about yourself – what stage of your PhD are you in and what’s your project about?
I am a second year MD-PhD candidate, starting my second year of medical school. At the end of this academic year I will transition into doing my genetics PhD full time.
What does a typical day or week look like for you?
Since I am simultaneously doing medical school and my PhD my schedule looks a little different than someone doing either their MD or their PhD. In the mornings, from 8am to 12pm I have classes for medical school. Then from 1pm-5pm I work on research. In the evenings and on the weekends I study for my medical school classes, read papers or run experiments for my research, and take some time for myself.
What’s one thing that you’ve enjoyed the most during your PhD?
I just started my PhD, but one thing I worked on was writing a review. This was a great way for me to get an introduction to the field and read a lot of scientific papers. I also just finished designing my first round of experiments which was also exciting because it allowed me to think like a researcher and learn to ask questions I want to answer.
What’s been the most challenging part of it?
I have just started my degree but I know there will be challenges. Experiments will fail, I will feel disheartened at times, but I do think that these challenges will help me grow as a researcher and a person.
Where do you see yourself 5 years after completing your PhD?
As a double degree MD-PhD, in 5 years I’ll still be completing my program! However, after I graduate and complete residency, I hope to one day run my own lab focused on drug discovery and see patient who I can help with my research. I also hope to continue doing the advocacy and service work that I do now.
What’s one piece of advice that you’d offer students that are thinking of doing a PhD?
I believe that having a PhD opens many doors and teaches you to think in a new way. It teaches you to ask questions that lead to scientific discoveries. Anyone can do research, you don’t need a PhD for that and a PhD is a long and difficult journey. However, it is also really rewarding and challenging in a great way. I truly believe you leave your PhD a different person than you began. My advice is don’t be discouraged by the hurdles you will face because each challenge will allow you to grow and become a better scientist. If this is something you want to do, don’t let anything get in your way.
What makes your university a good place to study?
There are many great things about my program such as the community, research opportunities, inspiring PIs, but I think one of the best parts of my program so far has been the institutional support. I have felt that I have numerous mentors who look out for my career and well being. They are always available to give advice and put us up for different opportunities. The faculty are interested in the development of our careers and in our success and I think that’s one of the most important aspects of a PhD program.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
When I am not studying or doing science, I love hiking and traveling. Being in nature grounds me. I also love having creative outlets. I paint watercolor portraits, write poetry, and run my Instagram account @bijoubasu where I try to talk about mindset and positivity.
I also started a nonprofit this year called No Longer Voiceless. After my grandfather passed away in February, I wanted to learn more about end of life as I was grappling with death. I founded a nonprofit that creates “Legacy Books” for end of life patients. The goal is to help them maintain dignity and end of life (site: nlvngo.org). I also am heavily involved with Doctors for America and am currently the co-chair of their Women’s Health group. Doing service and giving back is when I feel the most fulfilled and has always been an important part of my life.
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