Dr Gita Pathak

Molecular Genetics
University of North Texas Health Science Center, 2019
Tell us a bit about yourself – what was your PhD about and where did you study?

I joined the PhD program in Biomedical Sciences at University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth, Texas (Twitter: @UNTHSC). For my doctoral thesis, I investigated genetic basis for inverse comorbidity between Alzheimer’s disease and cancer, and syntropic comorbidity between Alzheimer’s disease and hypertension.

What do you do now? What did you decide to do next after gaining your PhD?

I am currently pursuing postdoctoral training in psychiatric genetics at Yale School of Medicine. In the last year of my PhD, I decided that postdoc was going to be my next step. I had a month between defending PhD and joining as a new postdoc.

Has having a PhD helped in developing your career? If yes, what has been the biggest impact? If no, why do you think that is?

Yes, PhD has helped develop my career, but also made me realize my talents and areas where I would like to improve. The biggest impact from my PhD was getting better in genetics, which was a passion. The training helped me develop my expertise in my passion of interest. Additionally, I believe, PhD is the only time where as a student you develop the ability of tracking multiple projects as you build your sense of independence.
I am one of those people, who has a lot of ideas for almost anything. The PhD experience refined my prioritization skills, where I could pursue several ideas, complete them without losing interest, and maintain independent thinking.

What’s one piece of advice that you’d offer prospective students considering a PhD?

Finding a mentor who believes in you, is of utmost importance. If your working style and expectations don’t match with your prospective PI, the training period of 4-6 years will seem like forever, and you will lose interest.

And what one thing would you suggest that new PhD graduates should do next?
Always take a break between graduation from PhD, and starting in a new role. The minimum break, in my opinion, should be at least 2-3 months.

Lastly, what’s your favourite memory from your time as a PhD student?
A road trip with my PI from Austin to Fort Worth. It was raining, weather was beautiful, we stopped at a gas station to get cheetos. We each got a different flavor of cheetos. I forgot mine in her car, the next day she brought it and left it at my desk with a note, saying she was proud 🙂

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