Varsha Gandhi, Ph.D. Transcript

 

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Interview question for Dr. Gandhi:
Why M. D. Anderson?

Dr. Gandhi answers:
I think the main thing I was looking for -- Specially selecting M. D. Anderson rather than selecting a lab -- was to do patient related research -- and that really fulfills the goal if you want to do some basic science and then translate into clinic, so that you feel that what you are doing in research, or in science, eventually has a clinical application, has an application for patients and you feel that you are making a difference.

Interview question for Dr. Gandhi:
What should you look for?

Dr. Gandhi answers:
So, when I was selecting for postdoctoral position -- especially the lab -- in which I will be doing that research -- mostly I was looking for mentor -- mentors enthusiasm and mentors research focus -- that’s what type of work he was doing -- is that clinically applicable research -- it is -- is it a translation research or not? So that was the main factor. The other was that -- what is the opportunity? What would be the opportunity for me to develop my career here if I like the place, if I like the environment, and if I like the institution? So those were really, the major criteria that I was thinking when I was thinking of applying for a postdoctoral position.

Interview question for Dr. Gandhi:
What can M. D. Anderson offer?

Dr. Gandhi answers:
So, actually for new or potential postdoctoral fellows -- if they are thinking of joining M. D. Anderson -- what are the advantages? The advantages -- first, there are very limited institutes like M. D. Anderson, where you can do translational research. So, translational research is the basic research that eventually gets translated into clinic. Some people call it bench to bedside and back to bed. That opportunity is rare -- and rare even in that country like United States. It’s only very limited institutes where you can do that. And the reason is that people do not have, or institutes do not have, patient resources that we have here. So that would be the first thing that I would think about. The other is -- the opportunity for collaboration. M. D. Anderson is a big institute. There are so many research and so many clinical faculty coming close to 1,000 faculty members, and also the match between them -- that is the clinical faculty and basic science faculty -- is available here that you can do translation research. The other is the Postdoctoral Association. We have a fantastic association at our institute and we really have a big number -- close to 400 postdoctoral fellows at M. D. Anderson and they really provide an environment -- postdoctoral environment so that you talk with other postdocs. It also provides diversity both in culture and also in research. So people right from the very first day, respect your -- where they are coming from -- which country, which state within the United States -- that they feel at home because they will find other postdoctoral fellows who are in similar situations, positions -- so that really makes you feel that you are at home not away from home. Which is very important when you are in a brand new environment. So those are the advantage. The other is Houston itself. It’s really the fourth metropolitan city in the United States. It has so much to offer whether you are interested in shopping, whether you are interested in cultural activities, going to Rice University, going to other sports events. Everything is available within the city, so you have a metropolitan area when you at M. D. Anderson. So those are, I think, the advantages of being at this institute.

Interview question for Dr. Gandhi:
Any advice?

Dr. Gandhi answers:
What would I say to someone looking for postdoctoral position? First thing would be that  -- many times graduate students -- they think that the research they are doing as a graduate student -- that they are trying to look for similar research when they go for a postdoctoral position. And I’ll say -- don’t worry about that. If you like the research focus of your new mentor, potential mentor, then jump into it because research is not just absolutely focusing on just one area, rather it’s understanding many diverse areas. So, it would be helpful if you go into a new environment, new lab, and new research focus.

Interview question for Dr. Gandhi:
Final thoughts?

Dr. Gandhi answers:
The other thing regarding being at M. D. Anderson, is that you will have the opportunity to collaborate and discuss your research with many other postdoctoral fellows. I developed, as I mentioned, my whole career here, starting as a postdoctoral fellow on the way to professorship and, I am right now the chair of the Postdoctoral Associaton, which I enjoy. And that’s where I am learning that how many different types of postdoctoral fellows we have -- whether they are in their first year, or last year -- whether they are moving on to become an instructor -- which is the faculty position at M. D. Anderson -- whether they are searching for a job in other institute -- the mentorship here is really great and that helps the postdoc develop their careers and progress and promote their careers.