Rajee Hari:
Hey, Everyone. Welcome to ProteanPulse, a healthcare podcast from ProteanMed. I’m Rajee Hari, the CEO and President of ProteanMed, a healthcare staffing and recruiting solution provider based out of the Woodlands, Texas.

My guest today is Shrinath Kadamangudi, a very young, enterprising, charming young man who is in the medical field pursuing neuroscience at UTMB Galveston.
Welcome to the podcast, Shrinath.

Dr. Shrinath Kadamangudi:
Thank you, Rajee. Good to see you here.

Rajee Hari:
Absolutely. It’s such a pleasure talking to you. I have seen your journey from UT Dallas all the way here.
So tell me a little bit about yourself.

Dr. Shrinath Kadamangudi:
Sure thing. From UTD, academic interest with neuroscience, and I really had fortune of being able to study at that institution because they really focused. The study of neuroscience that unlike other undergraduate institutions that had more of a good basic biology degree and whatnot.
Before I kinda get into that, the undergraduate route, I guess one of the reasons you had me on here was you know, form of interest in health care and in neuroscience.
I guess that interest started long ago, but I guess if there was an event, it was a culmination of various events, but if there was one event, it was really all of my great grandparents who passed away either suffering from or dying because of mental, neurological illnesses. From the spectrum of Alzheimer’s disease and neurodegeneration to the aneurysms and whatnot.
Anyway, sorry, getting back to my journey starting at UT Dallas, I majored in neuroscience there. I completed an honors capstone thesis.
And since then, I’ve worked in various roles after upon graduation, both in healthcare and outside of healthcare. I worked as a behavioral therapist for a little while. I worked as a medical scribe for a little while. I also had the good fortune of being accepted to the Masters of philosophy program in Queensland Australia, the Queensland Brand Institute. That was basically a research based master’s program as compared to, like, an MS, which would be more a little more academic, a little more like a…

Rajee Hari:
Hold on. Hold on. I don’t think it is as simple as just getting into Queensland.
You worked hard to get into that Queensland research program.
Tell us what took you there what was the process that took to Queensland?

Dr. Shrinath Kadamangudi:
Absolutely. Honestly, it was relatively serendipitous.
So after I graduated from undergrad, although my trajectory on CV may seem linear. I was extremely confused.
I didn’t know what to do.
So I actually moved back into my parents. Not to discourage that for anyone, but, um, there I worked in, actually, as well also in IT, a little bit in staffing, a little bit in programming. That wasn’t really cutting it for me.
I really wanted to implement what I learned in undergrad, and that’s where I pursued my role in as a behavioral therapist, an institution called BRAINbalance. They’re actually starting at many centers in the Houston area.
And honestly, you don’t have to have a lot of experience, they’ll they’ll kind of train you on hand.
It’s not an allopathic regimen, but it’s really therapeutic, right?
It’s more of like interventional therapy for children who have behavioral disorders and other issues.
So I worked there for a year. Really I found that these issues couldn’t we just weren’t ready to address them.
how much of a therapy you’re giving that people people aren’t getting better, things like autism, schizophrenia, ADHD, they need to be more rigorous research done to address these issues.
I came to heard about the University of Queensland through, I their medical program, they have a joint program with the Ochsner system in Louisiana. But they had just announced in a newsletter that they’re offering a massage philosophy program in neuroscience.
That was purely research based, no examinations or anything like that.
The interview process was relatively rigorous, but I definitely heard of the research institute, which is, called Queensland Brain Institute Or QBI for short.
What actually I wanted to work on there was a project using ultrasound to treat Alzheimer’s disease.
So I thought that was kind of unique and creative because that was we use ultrasound work for diagnostics, but it hadn’t been used for therapeutic.
In any case, I applied to that program, and I guess I fit the bill because of my background and you know, decent interviewing.
So I had the opportunity to go there. It was a 2 year program.
I’m happy to talk to anybody who’s maybe interested about it.

Rajee Hari:
That’s interesting. That’s interesting. How you have taken your neuroscience experiment or your experience.
And you’ve taken that to the MPhil level. Continued with the research.
I can see a trend towards research here. Right? So What happened after your Queensland work?

Dr. Shrinath Kadamangudi:
So actually when I got to Australia I started off in an Alzheimer disease project that I was that I mentioned.
And I had it was a relatively convoluted journey, you know, all kinds of ups and downs, but I think that some of it was. I wanted to be a little bit more close to the clinical side, which is working with human patients being made closer to translational medicine, if you will.
One of the problems that I could never shake off was a lot of neuroscience is based on model systems, which include animal models.
I had an issue for with animal models for 2 reasons.

  1. The ethical reasons. There’s a for the disappointing fact that I found it difficult to experiment on other living beings There’s a a philosopher called the Peter Singer who kind of really, I think, structured my logic around that. I would highly recommend anyone who’s interested in that kind of animal research to…

Rajee Hari:
is it a book?

Dr. Shrinath Kadamangudi:
Peter Singer’s, he’s an author. So he’s, like, he’s a philosopher, and so he’s actually still alive.
And written a lot of really, really quaint essays, just very some very basic logical notions, which are like, is this, is this the right approach?
Nonetheless, I, you know, I work with peers in my own lab currently does animal work, and I definitely think it has a place and a time, but The second part is that it was a holy grail for neuroscientists to study the human brain, like reducing any issues with, like, human problems to an animal model can have a lot of issues and caveats.
And frankly, I think it’s led a lot of research areas, especially neuroscience in the wrong direction.
what we really needed, what what neuroscientists needed was a way to study the human brain non-invasively.
Like, we if we could study basically look at touch and feel that the human brand, not invasive without cutting it open.
And it turns out that magnetic resonance imaging MRIs are the closest we have to that.
And so that institution had a partnership with Siemens, and basically they were doing some really cutting edge work using some very advanced hardware as well as software including AI Technologies, which is what a little bit my master end of my thesis ended up being on was to maximize the information you can get from MRI imaging.

Rajee Hari:
Interesting. How did you move from MPhil into your MDF PhD program?

Dr. Shrinath Kadamangudi:
Yes. Towards my program, how at the end of that program, I was like, okay.
What am I really gonna do with my life now?
You know, I think it just kind of dawned on me that I I wanted to utilize my experience in neuroscience to improve the lives of people with neurological and mental health disorders.
I’d always been in the fringe of research and always been in the fringe of medicine.
And so at that point is when I made the decision to pursue the MD PhD program because I never really considered it up till that point.
I was like, ah, medicine research, medicine research, but be that bridge between research and medicine.
Frankly, I didn’t think I was capable of it.
I didn’t think I was prepared enough or it didn’t have the the grades and whatnot, but towards end of that program.
I finished strong with my thesis.
Took the entrance exam as necessary in multiple other requirements. I also like provide free mentorship for anyone who’s interested on the side.
So again, if you’re interested in that, in either medical applications or PhD applications or the combined, I’m more than happy to answer questions on that.

Rajee Hari:
So how is this program different from the regular MD program?
Is there anything drug that you have to do to get into this MD PhD program?

Dr. Shrinath Kadamangudi:
So there’s no hardcore requirements.
The combined MD PhD program was a initiative, thought about the National Institutes of Health many years ago to basically address exactly the issue that I was saying was that to adjust large gaps between medicine and research.
People weren’t very familiar with with day to day research.
Like, I would say research expertise can be a little bit more confined, a little bit more pinpointed, whereas, medical expertise a lot more general.
And eventually, it becomes a little more algorithmic. There’s not a lot of crosstalk between doctors and researchers, and they’re like, they started they basically made a fund and active initiative to then, get MD PhDs.
So this program is supposed to be around 7 to 8 years.
The idea that you save a little bit of time instead of a traditional PhD, which is about 6 years. The structure is different from every program, depending on how old the program is.
The program I’m at is very traditional. They call it the 2 by 2 structure. And so, basically, the 1st 2 years are medical school, and that’s your all your what they call your preclinical years.
So, basically, all medical school wherever you go is gonna be 4 years long.
Like I said, the 1st 2 years are typically, like I said, preclinical. They’re didactic.
You’re kind of reviewing all your basic biology chemistry stuff you learned in undergrad, of course, it’s a little bit it’s a little more rigorous than that.
Then after those 2 years, you enter your PhD years.
And then you actually completely finish your PhD however long it takes between 2 to 4 years, and then you reenter following that into your clinical years where you start seeing and taking care of patients.
At every point, you actually have to reintegrate whatever you’re doing from before.
So during your clinical years, students are doing research in a summertime or on the side.
During our research, for example, now I shadow and I go into the clinic and I take care of patients.
And that’s almost mandatory our programs.
It can be very, very tough at times just because it’s hard to not, not because of time, but to juggle the technicality of both fields.
And so that’s kind of the idea, though, that you train in a sort of dedicated program like that for an extended amount of time.

Rajee Hari:
Yeah. That’s what I was about to ask you was, isn’t it like a lot of bits and pieces that you need to constantly put together the jumbled pieces in your head and make sure that you have all the compartments in place and you’re able to kind of, you know, shift and jump from one to the other.
I guess you’ve mastered that. Totally how many years is this MD PhD program? Seven?

Dr. Shrinath Kadamangudi:
They’re typically 7. Uh, the average the average time to finish is usually 8.
basically it’s dictated by however long your PhD takes, because the time course for that is dependent on your work.
If it usually biology or biochemistry, it could take a little longer because experiments can take longer, typically, because epidemiology research or computational typically those are a little bit shorter because you can fit something into a certain time frame, but you don’t know how biology is gonna turn out.
You can ask any question you want, but, you know, if it doesn’t answer the question you want, it may take a little longer.

Rajee Hari:
And I’ve been a scientist, so I totally understand.
Coming back to this, MD PhD program and what career path will this take you into?
do you still have to do your fellowship, or will it be more on the academic side?

Dr. Shrinath Kadamangudi:
That’s a great question. So MD PhD has a lot of flexibility in terms of which ways you can go, people that are from industry to, obviously clinical practice and research, but I guess. Actually, we have a really good mentor.
Part of this program also is that you get mentorship, like, one on one as well as a tailored mentorship with a lot of other faculty and and people you want to go to.
So the director of our program is really good about giving, like, weekly seminars to kind of, you know, train us and guide us. But He explained that there’s 4 broad directions you can go.
There’s 2 that are obvious. Like I said, you can be a physician or you can be a researcher.
You can also go the administrative route, for example, go the more academic route in terms of being the dean or like chancellor, that kind of stuff. you’re taking care of you have to definitely have understand, like, administrative requirements for health care institution or research institution.
You can also go the academic teaching route.
So that’s the 4th route and actually teach and stuff like that negatively involved.
Typically, it’s advised that to choose 2 of these 4. Doing more, you can do more.
Either you’re either like losing on sleep or you have to kind of, you know, somehow make it work.
But, for me personally, I think I wanna go to traditional route physician, slash researcher.
Because like I said, for me, this drive started for a very personal reason, and I sometimes just can’t stop thinking about a certain problem.
For me, currently my work is around Alzheimer’s disease.
Either I’m still a little bit split between, neurology or neuropathology. Neurology would be more suited to see patients and be more clinically active. When neuropathology also definitely be clinically involved.
However, there’ll be a lot more research opportunities.
Gonna be working with things such as postmortem tissue or surgical specimen and being able to really probe that further for other questions, queries that I might have.

Rajee Hari:
Very interesting. tell me a little bit about the research that you’re doing currently.

Dr. Shrinath Kadamangudi:
I’m two years into my PhD now that I’m one of those people who unfortunately, or fortunately, is gonna end up taking 4 years to do the PhD.
I really enjoyed it. Um, one of the reasons I’m taking a little longer is because I feel like this is my dedicated research time future in my career.
I’m not sure when I’ll be able to make mistakes like I can now and learn as much as possible.
For my work, my recent efforts have been focused around specifically, there’s gonna be some technical words, but I can try to briefly explain it.
It’s how toxic protein species and Alzheimer’s disease spread throughout the brain.
So Alzheimer’s disease has this really the sort of core issue is these the buildup of these toxic protein species. People may have heard of these as called amyloid beta tau, but they’re fallen to the category of amyloidogenic proteins.
And Alzheimer’s disease as opposed to other neurodegenerative diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS or Parkinson’s or other things like that has a very interest thing phenotype where this these proteins seem to spread in the brain, very similar to like mad cow disease or something like that.
That was a little more recently found. It was very controversial because it’s like, is then Alzheimer’s disease contagious or something like that?
You know, it’s almost like a they caught pre on light, but it’s not contagious.
As far as we think it is as evidence to suggest that.
But I’m trying to study the mechanism by which it spreads because it turns out that when, but we all contain these species, like, we all have some element of some, some amount of these, these toxic species, and have been validated through postmortem observations, as well as, positronic emission tomography like PET imaging and MRI and stuff.
But why is that in some people, it kind of it devastates it by, like, really spreading so quickly so rapidly, and so if we can understand that, hopefully, we can intervene, and that’s kind of what I’m trying, the mechanisms by which that happens in the human brain.

Rajee Hari:
Interesting. I mean, we’ve had experience in my personal life as well.
So if something can come out of this and if we can solve this issue and and find a cure for Alzheimer’s.
Thank you so much. That’ll be awesome.
So I’m gonna switch gears a little bit and talk about what it takes for a student to follow this kind of a path along intuitive and sometimes very demanding path towards a high and lofty goal like what you have right now.
Finding cure for neuro diseases.
What do you think is the basic skill or the basic personality that a person should have to go through this path?

Dr. Shrinath Kadamangudi:
There’s a lot of small elements that are necessary. But I think that the biggest and most important one is just a genuine interest and whatever the area it is that you choose to go into.
This line of work is not a sprint. It’s a marathon as one might assume.
I think a lot of people complete the MD PhD degree with, like, oh, like, once you’re in it, you’re set, like, it’s done, like, you know, you could set yourself success because all they see is the dual title.
You can have a choice to do whatever you want. Yes.
That happens, but like you said, it’s a 7 year program. It’s not just the program itself, but it’s the commitment that you’re making to the field.
There’s very few people who get accepted into the program.
It was typically about 3 to 4 per institution per year. It is relatively rigorous.
So I think it’s not about the rigor.
It’s just you only succeed and you’ll enjoy the ups and downs only if, like, you’ll be able to make it through if if you have a genuine interest.
Besides that, everything else is, honestly, I think it’s over it’s a little over exaggerated in terms of the technical skills and personal skills, interpersonal skills that are required to be competitive for this program, people think you need to have near perfect exam scores and and grade point averages and need to be extremely intellectual intuitive.
And the answer is actually it’s not true. You can be a very average person.
I would consider myself relatively average in performance. I just had a genuine interest.
I’ve also seen very smart people and including my own program extremely hardworking and, and very sharp, but they started it and they dropped out.
Were they smarter than me? 100%, but did they waste more time? Were they more inefficient? yes, because they wasted that much effort and stuff like that.
So it’s really not about that, but I am what the medical field would consider nontraditional student because I was out school out of undergraduate about 5 years.
Typically, these kinds of programs will favor non-traditional students who take an extra gap year or, you know, done something to really think about is this the route that’s for them?
Because like I said, it’s about it’s about sticking it through in this program.
It’s not about sprinting and and making it work because there’s that’s not that’s just not how the program is structured.

Rajee Hari:
That’s true, though. It’s not just in a medical field. It’s not just in education. It’s in business.
It’s in any kind of a profession.
If there is one single quality that you can say is very much needed to be successful, that’s grit.
Right. That’s exactly what you have is that grit.
If you don’t have that grit, what no matter how much ever you try, whatever field that you go into, there’s definitely a level of I don’t wanna say failure, but definitely a level of, lowered performance that you can expect.
So grit is definitely what you need. Yeah. Well said, I really agree with you.
I wanna know how you handle your stress. This is a lot of stress.
I mean, 4 years undergrad, and you had a 5 years, but 5 years, I know you underplay this by saying you are average.
no average student can do a good Queensland, do a MPhil, come back, and sit and study for an MD PhD program, get into the program, stay the course, and now you’re in your research. I don’t think it’s an average student’s path any means or ways. I mean, hats off to you really.
That’s the reason why I’m having you on my podcast is to showcase the the power of grit and your determination to achieve what you want to achieve.
It’s a great inspiration for whoever is out there. Having said that, it’s a lot of stress.
It’s not stress is a overused word in this country or in this world in general, but definitely it’s you need a balance. Right?
So how do you create your balance? What is your way? Go to thing for stress management.

Dr. Shrinath Kadamangudi:
We all need something to balance ourselves.
Before I answer that question, everyone thinks, you know, the PhD is gonna be a walk in the park compared to the MD.
You know, it’s a joke that’s often made or people like be like, oh, people do a PhD.
They didn’t if they didn’t get into medicine or something was absolutely not true. I can hands down about at least in my field that my PhD is now officially harder than my my medical school simply because you’re trying to answer unanswered questions.
And if you’re genuine about your the goal it’s going to be harder.
There’s not an answer to, to go off of.
But to answer your question about how I find balance, I’m a little bit vanilla.
I really enjoy working out. I’ve been an athlete.
I was a student athlete growing up, and I really, like, I can’t go a day without doing some form of physical exercise.
It’s also been shown been studies have shown that, high intensity interval training or really any form of cardiovascular exercise is so beneficial for the body.
The number one most significant mitigating factor towards Alzheimer’s disease is cardiovascular exercise.
That’s something which I highly value.
I don’t like to really put out any information that I don’t practice myself.
I used to be very much into meditation and I used to practice really. I don’t anymore.
That’s something that brings me a lot of balance.
I still do a lot of yoga, and stretching and whatnot.
Basically, I like to get my physical body involved because oftentimes I’m still in my head and so I have to balance that out with something that’s not so mental.

Rajee Hari:
Do you read a lot of books too? Do you have time for it?

Dr. Shrinath Kadamangudi:
I don’t. I oh, I have time for sure. So time’s not a problem.
It’s not a I think miss the misconception that people don’t have time in this program.
That’s absolutely not true because, I think a lot of people see is as, oh, you’re in school.
It is, yes, you are. school. Also, this is most programs are also fully funded. So we get paid.
That’s a that’s a bonus in case you’re wondering about student debt and stuff like that.
people give you the space and time.
That’s the reason why you’re not technically doing the MD and the PHP together. That would be virtually impossible.
So there is extra space and time, and therefore, it And so I’m not I’m not a huge reader because I love reading I’m one of those weird people who likes to read nonfiction, and so I love reading science books some particles.
But by the time I get to the end of the day, I’m like, I don’t really wanna re reread it.

Rajee Hari:
I can understand that. Thank you. So I love talking to you about your journey.
It’s a very unique journey. It’s not a standard journey that other med students have taken.
How can people reach you to learn more about the program, or if they have any issues that they want to discuss, how can they reach you?

Dr. Shrinath Kadamangudi:
You can also just Google my name. that’ll take you that’ll take you to links for now, Katamangudi.

I’m sure you can see you’ll see the the title of this of this podcast show.
There’ll be a link to my research profile within the lab that I currently work in.
I also have some information on research gate, which is a public forum, where, my recent work and also my research interests and stuff like that are listed.

Otherwise, I’m also going on Facebook. Feel free to just shoot me a message. I’m pretty open.

Always happy to answer questions and provide guidance in any way that’s that I can.

Rajee Hari:
So what will be your email ID? You wanna share your email ID?

Dr. Shrinath Kadamangudi:
Yeah. Sure. So it’s s h r i, which is the first four letters of my name shri_kadman@yahoo.com.

Rajee Hari:
Alright, people. So anyone out there who wants to reach out to Shri and learn more about the program, here you go.
He has given his email ID as well. Thank you, Shri. Thank you so much.
I know it’s a lot between your research and all that’s going on.
You created time, and we’ve been trying to do this. So thank you so much for your time.
Thanks, everyone, for listening. Don’t forget to subscribe to ProteanPulse. We are on Spotify as well.
You can search for Protean Pulse and remember to leave us your feedback.
I will see you in the next episode. Don’t miss the beat.