“Vijay has been relentless in pursuing research and scholarship opportunities throughout his time as an undergraduate at the University of Iowa, and even more so during his first year of medical school. Throughout his time at Iowa, he has networked with healthcare professionals and researchers, and leveraged these connections to create research opportunities for himself across the translational sciences pipeline. From bench research elucidating novel biochemical mechanisms to global health work that has an impact on population health, Vijay has seemingly been involved in it all during his short time at Iowa.” – Marcelo Correia, Clinical Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine
• Hometown: Cedar Rapids, IA
• Faculty mentor/advisor: Dr. Marcelo Correia
• What is your degree program and expected graduation date? MD Program, May 2024
• Please describe your research: The objective of our research is to describe the in-hospital mortality and severity of COVID-19 in patients with diabetes receiving treatment with two blood sugar lowering medications. In addition to lowering blood glucose, these medications have been shown to have potent anti-inflammatory effects on the cardiovascular system. Currently, there is a lack of data regarding the COVID-19 related outcomes of diabetic patients taking these medications. Our research seeks to elucidate these novel associations between pharmacological treatment and course of COVID-19 severity.
• In simple terms, why does this research matter? Coronavirus-19 (COVID-19) has disproportionately affected older individuals and those with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes. In fact, just the presence of diabetes has been associated with higher mortality and increased need for intensive care. Understanding the metabolic implications of these medications is our best shot at better assessing risk and treating people with diabetes affected by COVID-19.
• How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research? I reached out to Dr. Correia the summer before my first year of medical school, and have since been involved with his research and with several other research mentors (thank you to Dr. Ann Broderick, Dr. Eric Taylor, Dr. Ryan Sheldon, Dr. Stephanie Gilbertson-White, and Dr. Sanchez) during my time as an undergraduate at the University of Iowa and medical student at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine.
• How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa? Becoming involved in research across the research spectrum from bench to bedside, has allowed me to see first-hand how science works to help people live more fulfilling lives. In addition, the research and clinical connections I have made during my time at Iowa have helped me reach out to a cutting-edge research institution in Michigan and a non-governmental organization in India. These connections have expanded my horizons in research and global health beyond what I would have ever thought possible. The research skills and the academic mentors willing to guide me have undoubtedly enhanced my education at the University of Iowa.
• What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation? Upon graduation, I will be applying to residency programs (type of doctor to be determined!). For now, I know I want to join a program with a strong emphasis in research and global health. I ultimately want to practice in a setting that allows me to conduct research, and helps me serve communities back in my home country of India.
• Does your research have connections to or implications for COVID-19? Please explain. Our research has a direct connection to COVID-19. To date, COVID-19 has claimed 5 million lives globally. Poor outcomes in patients with diabetes have been shown since the beginning of the pandemic. Therefore, more case data and analyses need to be done to identify what kinds of medications and interventions can be administered to this high-risk population to prevent significant morbidity and mortality.
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