Department of Pathology News

Chief Resident Heads to NIH

Monday, June 11, 2012

As his clinical pathology residency at Einstein-Montefiore winds down, Samik Basu, MD, is passing the baton to the next generation of chief residents. In the next phase of his career, Dr. Basu will apply his clinical knowledge to research studies aimed at improving treatments for patients with autoimmune disease.

In July, Dr. Basu will head to the National Institute of Health, where he will work as a scientist in the field of immunology in the lab of Ethan M. Shevach, MD, chief of cellular immunology section. The lab’s research efforts are focused in the area of immune regulation in the pathogenesis and treatment of organ-specific autoimmune disease.

Despite the time and rigorous training it takes to become a physician-scientist, Dr. Basu, 32, is looking forward to the creative freedoms that basic science allows, and to “throwing” himself into the lab full-time.

“What would excite me is to find a cure for autoimmune disease,” said Dr. Basu, who will continue his research in the field of Human Regulatory T cell Signal Transduction, which he began as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania and continued throughout his Einstein residency.

While basic science is Dr. Basu’s first love, being a medical doctor allows for more human-centric research or translational medicine - that is, to actively take what is done on mice models in the lab and translate it to humans.

“The science always helps the medicine, especially in clinical pathology,” said Dr. Basu, who earned his medical degree at Temple University in 2005, in a combined BS/MD program.

His Einstein research was conducted in the lab of Fernando Macian-Juan, MD, PhD, associate professor of pathology, in identifying the mechanisms that control the activity of regulatory T cells, which are crucial players in the prevention of autoimmune reactions.

Specifically, Dr. Basu investigated the role of the transcription factor nuclear factor of activated T cells 1 - also called NFAT1 - in effector T cells undergoing active suppression by Regulatory T cells.

Regulatory T cells are responsible for “tolerance” – or keeping the immune system from attacking the host. Loss of tolerance is implicated in a wide variety of autoimmune disease, including Type 1 Diabetes, Ulcerative Colitis, Arthritis, Lupus, among others.

“He had a great deal of experience in regulatory T cell biology and he brought to the lab his expertise in human immunology, which we desperately needed,” said Dr. Macian-Juan, noting that Dr. Basu not only expanded the ongoing studies in the lab into a human system, but also helped advance the projects of other students in the lab.

“If Samik is the kind of medical scientist we can recruit to bridge our residency program and the basic research in the department, I can only expect great success in this new venture.”

On the clinical side, as a CP-only resident - 90 percent of pathology residents are both Anatomic (AP) and Clinical (CP) – Dr. Basu served as a consultant on laboratory testing and lab-related issues. He was also involved in the approval of rare or esoteric tests that clinicians ordered.

In his role as chief resident – along with fellow AP/CP chief Dr. Ari Leifer and education chief Dr. Anita Singh - Dr. Basu served as backup on all CP calls throughout the year, handling issues that other residents felt uneasy about dealing with on their own.

“Samik is a team player with well thought out opinions, clear goals and a wide ranging skill set that will help him get where he wants to go,” said Dr. Leifer. “When he becomes a dean somewhere, it will be a pleasure to work for him, as well.”

In addition to his skill as a basic science clinical pathologist, Dr. Basu has left his mark as an effective educator and mentor.

“He is a great teacher to all residents – and always treated them as friends, colleagues and equals – though he has massive basic science knowledge,” said pathology residency director Dr. Jacob Steinberg.

With the guidance and oversight of Dr. Tylis Chang and other CP faculty, Dr. Basu created a new clinical pathology rotation introductory course – “boot camp” - a series of hour-long lectures for first-year residents, many of whom may have little prior clinical or laboratory exposure.

He also introduced a course on how to read the scientific and medical literature, which residency director Dr. Jacob Steinberg described as “simply wonderful.”

Perhaps most noteworthy was Dr. Basu’s implementation of the call review, a program that helps residents learn how to approach testing and allows them to play a role in guiding a clinician when ordering the appropriate tests.

“If a clinician doesn’t have good answers for what they’re going to do with the result they don’t get the test,” he explained.

“It makes testing more appropriate, saves money and it’s a big teaching tool.”

Among the many highlights of his pathology residency, "the most awesome," he said, occurred during his first month at Montefiore. While participating in autopsies, Basu saw two cases of Amyloidosis on patients that died from complications of the rare disease.

Looking back, Basu sings the praises of his fellow residents and collaborations with Einstein and Montefiore clinicians, researchers and faculty. Still, he is looking forward to his new adventure and finding a way to manipulate regulatory T cells for therapies.

He is also eager to settle in the DC area, where he can run competitively, and will no longer have to commute on weekends to Delaware, where his fiancé is attending graduate school. In two years, he has logged 52,000 miles on his Toyota Matrix.

Echoing the sentiment of Dr. Leifer, the Pathology Department wishes Dr. Basu "lots of luck in his new position and a hearty Mazel Tov on his upcoming marriage."

You can keep in touch with Samik at samik.basu1@gmail.com


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