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Krish Dewan, College of Medicine student

A Taste for Research: Krish Dewan, Part I

What’s it like, doing research – and being part of a team that’s published in a top medical journal – while still in medical school? Northeast Ohio Medical University College of Medicine student Krish Dewan says, “When done correctly and with the appropriate guidance, research develops some very critical skills in a budding physician. Above all, it is incredibly rewarding.”

He adds, “I quickly realized research was significantly more fun when it paralleled my own personal interests.” From early studies of propellers and radio transmission to the antimicrobial properties of common herbs and spices, and most recently, to an investigation of opioids in cardiac surgery, Dewan has gone all out to pursue those interests.

Born and raised in North Canton, Ohio, just south of Akron, Dewan completed a bachelor’s in science degree at the University of Akron in two years before matriculating to NEOMED as a College of Medicine student. He’s a rising fourth-year student now.

In Part 1 of a two-part feature, Dewan talks about how his interest in research has developed at NEOMED.

In Part II, Dewan will talk about how doing research has enhanced his clinical and classroom work and what he learned from helping to prepare an article for publication in a top medical journal.

How did you get interested in research?

Research had been an integral part of my education very early on. My earliest foray into the scientific process began in science fair competitions in elementary school, with my twin brother, Karan. Due to my age at the time, these projects were largely limited to non-medical topics. I have always had a particular interest in aviation, so I conducted some basic projects dealing with the physics of propellers and airfoils as well as radio transmission/electronics. I thoroughly enjoyed the process of coming up with an idea and seeing it to the finish as well as being able to share my results with others. In high school I finally started to gain some experience in basic sciences working in a lab at a community college nearby. Here I did some work examining the antimicrobial properties of common herbs and spices.

These introductory experiences were the perfect exposures to the type of critical thinking and persistence it takes for a project to succeed as well as the dedication to the principles of the scientific method. The two years I subsequently spent at the University of Akron were very rigorous academically and did not leave much time for research activity. I missed it sorely and was excited for the opportunity to resume during the summer before my first year in medical school. That summer was my first opportunity to conduct human subjects research as we explored patient blood samples for the metabolic biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute.

All of these experiences taken together served as a critical foundation from which I developed and fostered an interest in research. But it was also through these experiences that I quickly realized research was significantly more fun when it paralleled my own personal interests.

How did you discover what kinds of research is being done here at NEOMED? How did you make contact with our faculty researchers?

During our first year of medical school, our class was made aware of NEOMED’s summer research fellowship. NEOMED offers a wide variety of research opportunities with its faculty [including the Summer Research Fellowship Program]. A vast majority of these projects fall in the basic sciences category. Conducting research in the lab was fascinating. The basic sciences have been (and will continue to be) an integral driver of medical advances in the past few decades. Yet, these advances often take years to bear fruit. Given the time restraints of medical school, I wanted to conduct research with some immediate relevance, and that would allow me to interact with fields of medicine I wished to explore. Clinical research provided the perfect avenue.

Finding an opportunity in this regard required some resourcefulness and the willingness to make cold calls and plenty of emails. Northeast Ohio is saturated with resources and connections from which students can benefit, extending from community hospitals like Aultman, Mercy, and Cleveland Clinic Akron General to large academic institutions like University Hospitals and the Cleveland Clinic.

I was lucky to get in touch with Dr. Edward Soltesz of the Cleveland Clinic to conduct research in the field of cardiothoracic surgery, a field I have grown to truly appreciate. Our first study examined surgical outcomes of patients who were opioid dependent due to the current opioid epidemic. What emerged from that summer experience went far beyond a single project. Rather, I found a mentor and a host of opportunities to explore the field that would not otherwise have been possible.

In Part II, Dewan will talk about how doing research has enhanced his clinical and classroom work and what he learned from helping to prepare an article for publication in a top medical journal.