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Research Conversations

Research Conversations

Research Conversations is released every three months and provides a unique opportunity to gain insight into the field of research.

Featured Researcher: Naji Abumrad, MD 
Academic Institution: Vanderbilt University Medical Center 
Title: Professor of Surgery/Executive Medical Director, Surgery Patient Care Center

Q1. Research News: Why did you choose academic medicine?
A1. Abumrad: Well, I came to this country to be a pediatric hematologist, and I was just married, had $140 in my pocket and two one-way tickets. And I get to the states and I am told that the pediatric hematologist spot was not available. There was an opening in the department of surgery so I took it.

Q2. Research News: So you stepped down as department chair, what are you doing now?
A2. Abumrad: Well I have a very busy lab, I have a lab that’s currently well-funded, and we even have two grants since I stepped down in July and so I am focusing primarily on two aspects. One, is the research and the other is mentoring young faculty and young fellows and how to develop academic careers. That’s what I focus on.

Q3. Research News: Tell me a little bit about your research and the reversing of Type II Diabetes in obese patients?
A3. Abumrad: I have always carried the problem from the patient to the lab. Made an observation in a patient, in treatment, then went to the lab and put my hard work and intellectual input, opinions and collaborative ideas of how to solve a problem. So if you look at it, I have moved in phases in my career.

Q4. Research News: You’ve mentored a lot of students and young physicians, researchers. What do you enjoy most about that experience?
A4. Abumrad: I don’t get these young men and women at an early age, I usually get them as they are in medical school, and they are in medical school and enthusiastic. My job is to stimulate, find out where their passions are and stimulate them. And honestly, my job is to try to prep them to fly.