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Medical Student Pursues Career of Giving Back

Nirav Patel
1st Year Osteopathic Medical Student
Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences

From the classrooms and laboratories of Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, first year medical student Nirav Patel dreams of the day he’ll return to work with the Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders.

A transformative experience in high school volunteering with the Red Cross led the Indian-born Patel into the rural hillsides of his country spotted with small villages – and people struggling with AIDS. Patel’s job was to raise medical awareness among these mostly illiterate villagers and help them manage their illness and prevent its spread. He fell in love with trust, respect and connections he made and set his career sights on a profession that would blend his love of working directly with people with his passion for research.

After immigrating to the United States in 2005 not knowing a word of English, Patel vowed to learn the language and studied hard at Parkland College. Two years later, he transferred to the University of Illinois and earned a degree in molecular and cellular biology.

“I want to go somewhere where help isn’t available and fill that need, working directly with people.”

Today at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, his research specialty is macrophages, cells in the human body that attack foreign substances, infectious microbes, and cancer cells and stimulate lymphocytes and other immune cells to respond to pathogens. Nirav will spend three years here, then for his fourth year rotations and residency, he plans to move back to Champaign, possibly to Christie Clinic, depending on how his interests develop in that time.

“What really interests me is making connections with people – in helping those who cannot get the medical services they need,” Nirav says in flawless English, learned in just six years. “I want to go somewhere where help isn’t available and fill that need, working directly with people.”

Nirav’s schedule at Kansas City University is rigorous, with days filled with medical classes and various laboratory requirements. When he’s not in class or lab, he’s doing extracurricular research work. Still, he finds time to hang out with friends, do volunteer work, and watch movies, comedy being his favorite.

“Medical school is expensive and any support helps relieve that burden so I can focus on my education,” he says. “The Christie Foundation has been generous, and I look forward to giving back when I graduate.”