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Project aims to answer cardiovascular question

Dakshesh Patel
Ever since he was a child growing up in India, Dakshesh Patel was fascinated with the concept of Pharmacology. How is it, he wondered, that you can swallow a pill and your head or another body part stops hurting?

After earning a master’s degree in pharmacology and working as a pharmacist in his native India, Dakshesh came to the United States in 2010 and earned his PhD from Upstate in 2016.

He is a research fellow at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center of Devices and Radiological Health in Silver Spring, MD.

His current research in the FDA’s stem cell electrophysiology lab focuses on identifying in vivo-to-in vitro correlation of patient responses to hERG blockers during a clinical trial. The study involves human induced pluripotent stem cell cardiomyocytes (cardiac muscular cells) derived from the blood samples of the patients enrolled in the clinical trial.

While at Upstate, Dakshesh worked in the lab of Richard Veenstra, PhD, professor of pharmacology. Dakshesh studied why certain molecules in some drugs used to treat cancer patients can be toxic to the heart.

“It’s not clear what the cause is,” Dakshesh said. “The goal is to find out why the molecules have an effect on the heart so in the future we can manufacture drugs with no side effects.”

Dakshesh was pleased with the training he received at Upstate.

“The Principal Investigators are all prominent in their field. If you look at their CVs, you’ll see Stanford, Harvard and Yale,” he said. “Dr. Veenstra is very prominent in gap junctions. I go to conferences, and people know him.”

The atmosphere at Upstate is congenial, he said, and the university’s size is an advantage because students don’t need an appointment to see faculty members.

“If you want to do a PhD at Upstate, you’re in good hands,” he said.