November 2007 Mentor of the Month Interview: Roshini Abraham
  1. What is your job title and affiliation?
    I am a consultant and Assistant Professor of Medicine and Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN.
  2. Briefly tell us about your educational and career background.
    I obtained my Ph.D. in Immunology at the National Institute of Immunology in New Delhi, India. My postdoctoral training in Basic Immunology (1996-2000) and Clinical Chemistry (2000-2002) were at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester. From 2002-2005, I was on staff in the Division of Hematology with a research focus on primary amyloidosis, a monoclonal gammopathy. For the last 2 years (2005-2007), I have been in the Department of Laboratory Medicine as a Director of the Cellular and Molecular Immunology Lab and Co-Director of the Clinical Immunology Labs.
  3. What are your Board certifications?
    Diplomate of the American Board of Medical Laboratory Immunology (ABMLI)
  4. With which professional societies/organizations (e.g. AACC) are you involved?
  1. What area(s) do you specialize in?
    Clinical Immunology with a focus on Primary Immunodeficiencies and Transplant Immunology
  2. What initiated your interest in this (these) area(s) and how did you eventually choose this (these) area(s) for your career?
    I have had a long-standing interest in clinical medicine and scientific disciplines related to this area, particularly Microbiology which evolved into an interest in Basic and Clinical Immunology.
  3. What are your clinical and research interests?
    Clinical interests – Primary Immunodeficiencies, Immune reconstitution and Immune competence in Bone Marrow Transplant and Solid Organ Transplant. Research interests are in the same area and additionally in the area of primary amyloidosis – a monoclonal gammopathy.
  4. You were named AACC’s Young Investigator of the Year. Describe how you achieved this accomplishment and some of the keys to your success at such an early age.
    I was grateful to be considered for this award. There have been many good role models and exciting scientific/clinical challenges that stimulated further enquiry over the years. Scientific pursuit has been said to involve 99% “perspiration” and 1% “inspiration”. Hard work is a key factor but equally important is the role of mentors and/or colleagues who nurture your career and provide an environment to flourish.
  5. Are there specific aspects of practicing laboratory medicine that you find unappealing?
    I do not enjoy the “bureaucracy” of lab management and on occasion, the tedious regulatory procedures that sometimes seem to impede rather than enhance progress.
  6. How would you recommend achieving an optimal work/life balance?
    I am probably not the best person to discuss the subject since I have not yet managed to achieve a work/life balance, however, it seems apparent that clinical medicine and its related component careers are more demanding and probably require a deeper level of commitment than certain other professions. This may then require a slightly modified definition of work/life balance.
  7. What excites you about practicing laboratory medicine everyday?
    I greatly enjoy the clinical interactions and the opportunity to use science to make a tangible difference in people’s lives through the advancement of clinical care.
  8. What are your predictions for advances in laboratory medicine and/or your area over the next ten years?
    Immunology on the whole, is an extremely rapidly changing discipline and new discoveries made in basic immunology are probably more likely to be just as rapidly translated into clinical lab practice in the future.
  9. What do you see as the challenges facing young scientists in laboratory medicine?
    The issues of balancing the implementation of scientific advances through esoteric testing with reimbursement costs may be daunting and impede progress in this area if not judiciously approached.
  10. What specific goals would you recommend that young scientists in your discipline set for themselves? Any suggestions on how to achieve them?
    I think regardless of the discipline involved hard work is critical, particularly for young scientists, as it seems almost impossible to keep up with the advances in both knowledge and technology. Additionally the importance of seeking the right mentor besides developing collaborations with other scientists/ clinicians cannot be overemphasized.
  11. Do you have any other specific comments or advice that you like to provide to the members of SYCL?
    To be a success in any area requires perseverance, a willingness to work hard and also to risk failure in the pursuit of knowledge. Adaptability and resilience are also good qualities to cultivate as knowledge and technology appear to be moving more rapidly than the mind can comprehend.
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