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Natasha Kesav, College of Medicine student

Student Presents at San Francisco Ophthalmology Conference

Natasha Kesav has an answer for any student wondering how they can find time to do research while in medical school.

For her, a great solution was to take an enrichment year between her third and fourth years in the College of Medicine to live in the Washington, D.C. area and complete a prestigious one-year program run by the National Institutes of Health. During the 2018-19 academic year, Kesav worked as a researcher at the National Eye Institute through the Medical Research Scholars Program (MRSP) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

For the 2019-20 year, Kesav is back in Northeast Ohio, completing her fourth year of medical school — and reaping the benefits of her time away.

Working at the NIH provided me with a world-class experience and skillset in clinical research, says Kesav. Through education, lectures, and invaluable patient interaction, Kesav left her research year feeling inspired.

“Being surrounded by colleagues and renowned leaders who are all committed to the NIH mission really got me excited about the impact I, too, can make as a physician,” she says.

Kesav adds that her experience was also pivotal in her decision to pursue ophthalmology as a specialty choice. She was drawn to the heavy integration of new technologies, imaging and research with high-impact patient care.

Presenting on a national stage

In October, Kesav presented an original paper at the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) annual meeting in San Francisco, reporting data from a study she conducted at the National Eye Institute during her stint in the MRSP. At the conference, Kesav also took the opportunity to learn more about the cutting edge in ophthalmology. It was inspiring to hear lectures in areas of big data, artificial intelligence, vision rehabilitation and mobile applications and innovation, she says.

“I feel these experiences are critical in shaping my mindset and my future in ophthalmology,” Kesav reflects. “The best advice I’ve received from leaders in the field is to maintain a curious mind. There are always opportunities by which to grow and learn, whether it comes from patients, allied health care professionals, or even from myself.

“That’s probably the biggest thing I’ve taken away from these experiences and I intend to use that curiosity as the driving force for my career.”