Highway Much less Traveled: Heart specialist Shares Distinctive Journey to Changing into a Doctor-Scientist

rajan jain
Rajan Jain, MD

Rajan Jain, MD, an assistant professor of Cardiovascular Drugs and Cell and Developmental Biology, believes his curiosity in science is perhaps genetic, as his household is comprised of many scientists and physicians. Jain, nevertheless, is each.

A physician-scientist, Jain treats sufferers as a heart specialist along with searching for new data about stem cell biology, coronary heart growth, and genome group in his lab.

In April, Jain was awarded the Donald Seldin~Holly Smith Award for Pioneering Analysis from the American Society for Scientific Investigation (ASCI), receiving $30,000 to advance his lab’s efforts, whereas additionally being chosen to ship a scientific speak on the Affiliation of American Physicians (AAP), ASCI, and American Doctor-Scientists Affiliation (APSA) joint assembly in 2022.

On this Q&A, Jain displays on his distinctive journey to turning into a physician-scientist and discusses his lab’s work in cell id and mutations.

Briefly describe your background and the way you got here to Penn.

My lab expertise in undergrad on the College of California, Berkeley solidified my curiosity in science, however my curiosity in medication developed alongside the best way. I got here to Penn 16 years in the past after medical college for my internship and residency in Inside Drugs.

I had a singular path in coming to analysis within the sense that I’m an MD, not an MD-PhD. Upon arriving at Penn, I met Jonathan Epstein, MD, government vice dean, chief scientific officer, and the William Wikoff Smith Professor of Cardiovascular Analysis within the Perelman Faculty of Drugs, and satisfied him and my program director to let me do some work in his lab. I finally bought “bit by the analysis bug” and took two years between internship and residency to dedicate myself to analysis efforts within the lab. Whereas I don’t have a PhD, I might argue that physicians can direct all flavors of analysis, together with basic-work like I do, whereas additionally seeing sufferers and instructing trainees. I believe that’s actually the superior energy of being a physician-scientist.

What impressed you to do the kind of analysis you’re doing?

Once I was coaching at Penn, I began to see a shift in sufferers who had been presenting with signs of coronary heart assaults. Initially, I had seen plenty of sufferers with blocked coronary arteries, the blood vessels that feed the center. We’ve gotten excellent at treating sufferers who’re within the midst of coronary heart assaults such that they don’t move away. Nonetheless, now plenty of these sufferers develop coronary heart failure, the place the center muscle can not contract properly.

I additionally educated in an period the place DNA sequencing was simply starting to turn out to be extra available. We had been capable of start correlating mutations in genes to signs that an individual may current with. I used to be tremendous enthusiastic about this and that motivated my pursuits in being within the lab and deciphering how a mutation results in congenital coronary heart illness, coronary heart failure, and a number of different syndromes.

jain video
As a part of his efforts to speak scientific findings clearly to the general public, Jain visualized his latest Cell Stem Cell examine in an informative video.

What analysis are you presently endeavor?

We’re fascinated by understanding how a cell types and the way it remembers what sort of cell it’s alleged to be over the lifetime of a human. An instance I prefer to say is, how does a cell resolve to turn out to be a liver cell versus a coronary heart muscle cell? What are the genes, proteins, and molecules concerned with this course of? Are there ailments which might be related to the lack of a cell’s potential to recollect itself and what it’s alleged to do? We’re fascinated by understanding this downside of so-called mobile id and the way DNA is organized and interpreted so {that a} coronary heart muscle cell, pores and skin cell, or mind cell types. We don’t assume this course of is random, and we’re making an attempt to grasp the principles that govern that group.

What are the largest challenges you face as a scientist and the place do you see the best alternatives?

The coaching path for physician-scientists is a problem. I’m a physician that cares for sufferers and I even have a lab. It’s an extended path with a lot of distinctive obstacles, each private {and professional}, and as a neighborhood we have to do a significantly better job of addressing these for the subsequent technology of trainees. I’ve been fortunate to have a number of wonderful mentors, however how will we be certain that persons are uncovered to this path and those that are fascinated by get the mentorship they want alongside the best way?

I additionally assume that scientists must do a greater job at speaking their findings in clear and comprehensible phrases to the general public. I’m a agency believer that good science and experiments will lead us to the subsequent period of novel remedies, and it’s essential to speak this with the broader populace. For instance, who knew that learning how micro organism defend themselves towards a virus would permit us to doubtlessly treatment sickle cell and a number of different ailments? And that comparable methodological analysis has been capable of create a vaccine for COVID-19 at a remarkably quick tempo. The widespread theme of those groundbreaking discoveries will not be luck; it’s simply well-founded, well-rooted science asking a basic query and taking a good higher strategy to answering it. What used to take a long time is getting condensed into years with the form of expertise we will use and analysis we will do. I don’t assume it’s hyperbole to say there’s no higher time to be a doctor or scientist than proper now.

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