Daljeet Chahal

Canadian Liver Foundation Clinical Fellowship Award
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I completed both a MASc (bioengineering) and an MD, I ended up completing training in Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology and am now completing training in Advanced Hepatology. I believe having this background gives me a unique point of view in clinical medicine – I see many issues that could be addressed using science and technology being developed at UBC. I pursued this training so I could work with scientists, engineers, and clinicians, hoping to translate some of these early technologies into clinical trials and hopefully patient care.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

UBC is a fantastic institute for both clinical medicine and biomedical research. I have been lucky enough to find amazing mentors and colleagues here who have challenged me intellectually and pushed me to new levels of achievement. BC is also home to me, and I hope to practice medicine and conduct research here after completing my training.

What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?

The graduate and medical schools at UBC are both top-notch and are home to many accomplished and inspiring individuals. I also love being able to interact with colleagues outside of my own discipline of medicine. I think that collaborations at intersecting fields are where new and exciting breakthroughs emerge from.

What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?

How interesting everyone is. I continue to be surprised by the accomplishments and backgrounds of those studying at UBC.

What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?

I am very excited about the translation of science and technology into clinical medicine. I cannot help but be excited about the possibility of setting up clinical trials designed to explore the feasibility of such technologies, for example, diagnostics or therapeutics.

What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?

The biggest challenge to me will be figuring out how to synergistically integrate my clinical practice with my research endeavors. I know that many people see these two as quite distinct, and in the past, I think they may have been. However, I see this as an opportunity. and want to make things as seamless as possible. For example, perhaps my colleagues and I can establish systems and collaborations that ensure clinical samples and data generated on a day-to-day basis are anonymized, curated, and fed into an analysis pipeline.

How do you feel your program is preparing you for those challenges?

My program has exposed me to many scientists and clinicians who are excited about collaborations and intersecting areas. Not only that, but I have also had many mentors who have pushed me to be intellectually curious and publish my research. I think that ongoing exposure to such mentors, and the collaborations I can form with such individuals, will help me design the systems I need to integrate my clinical and research endeavors.

What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?

I worked in a lab during my undergraduate degree at UNBC, and the mentorship I received there very much exposed me to science. During my MASc program at UBC, I was exposed to students and mentors from various disciplines completely distinct from my own, and that experience taught me lessons about collaboration and communication that I don’t think I could have learned elsewhere.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

I like being outdoors and going to the gym when possible. I also like exploring new restaurants with friends and family.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

My advice probably applies more to those in medical school, but I think it is very important to find an area or topic that drives you, something you cannot help but think about. Keep an open mind – you do not necessarily need to do what everyone else is doing. Your “specialty” might not even be related to day-to-day clinical medicine at all. Be thoughtful about this, because once you discover your area, the natural drive will push you through any challenges you encounter.


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