Spanning the Globe: Indian Physician Trades Scrubs for Diabetes Research
11/6/12 9:02 AM
By Alicia Jacobs, Excelsior Life News Staff
Vaishali Jahagirdar started her career as a medical doctor in India and was trained as a general physician. However, Dr. Jahagirdar traded her scrubs and a career treating patients for research in the life sciences field a decade ago after moving to the U.S. with her husband.
“I really wanted to understand how research was done and had a fascination for studying the brain and how it affects behavior,” said Jahagirdar, today a senior research analyst for Institutional Effectiveness at Excelsior College. After moving here, she entered into research with focus on neuroscience, conducting research on animal-models – rat, genetically-modified mice, hamster brains, cell-cultures, and post-mortem human brain tissue.
Jahagirdar explained her career transition from being a medical doctor to a statistical researcher, “My medical training in India helped me to be analytical and to be a better researcher. My doctoral studies in the U.S., in a quantitative field like neuroscience, have nurtured these skills, taught me how to think creatively, critique constructively, and ask questions. It is actually my doctoral studies that formally trained me in statistics. “
“As a researcher I had to dig into literature, figure out unanswered questions in the field, design experiments, collect data, analyze my data, make sense of it and present my findings to the research community and laypersons. I use all these skills day in and day out in my present job.”
Jahagirdar’s research trajectory included working on doctoral thesis and multiple postdoctoral postings. Her thesis focused on helping others to understand how maternal steroid hormones like progesterone and thyroid hormones affect developing baby brains.
Her thesis research findings have provided valuable insight on how normal brain development occurs and what might potentially go wrong in mental retardation. Her postdoctoral training included studying the effects of diabetes and its treatment with insulin on memory.
According to Jahagirdar, the results of these studies do have impact on individuals with diabetes.
- Brain functioning may be altered in diabetics who undergo insulin replacement therapy and suffer from moderate bouts of lowered blood glucose levels.
- These findings suggest a need for developing treatment regimens which reduce the risk of lowered blood glucose levels, and at the same time, achieve optimal blood glucose control.
- If thyroid hormone imbalances exist in diabetics, restoring normal levels of thyroid hormones may not only help in improving blood glucose control but may also help in regulating memory deficits.