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Vish Patel, a 2011 graduate of the UAB Biotechnology program, has stayed involved with the program and the School of Health Professions since graduation.

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Q: Current Position?

A: Medical Doctor – this is my last year of surgical residency and I am starting a vascular surgery fellowship at Michigan State University.

Q: Current City/State?

A: New York, New York

Q: What was your favorite part of the Biotechnology program?

A: The greatest thing for me was the understanding faculty. I grew very close to Tino Unlap (program director) and even though he knew my end goal was not biotech, he supported me fully in my endeavor for medical school.

Q: What was the toughest part of the Biotechnology program?

A: Honestly, I enjoyed every bit of it. Classes were a little easier because I had a strong biology background having started a masters in biology first. The hardest thing I found was getting the result I wanted in the lab simulations – the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) always had something against me. Being part of the first class with everything still new and being molded was also difficult to adapt to. I think it made me stronger as I was also part of the first class for my med school.

Q: Who or what impacted you the most at UAB? And why?

A: I have a very long history with UAB. But as I stated above, Dr. Unlap was very supportive of us. I also grew very close at the time with my classmates. Some who I still speak to today. Including my wife who was in the class after me.

Q: What advice would you give to future Biotechnology students and/or graduates?

A: Even though my job is not directly related to biotech, I continue to see my wife thrive in it. The one year gave me the maturity I needed when I was not ready for medical school. I work with many pharm, medical equipment representatives who are always insightful especially in the Operating Room. I feel that Biotechnology is a growing field with many opportunities. Working in NYC, I encounter biotech startups all the time. Keeping a goal in mind during the year is always crucial. The tools are there, but because the industry is new; you’ll have to climb a higher hill. In respect though, the rewards are greater.

Q: Where will we see you in 20 years?

A: I want to have a family with my own vascular surgery practice while attempting to teach students in all fields.

Q: Why do you love your job?

A: Simply because I have a scalpel in my hand. As cliche as it sounds I save lives impacting people directly on a daily basis. The masters gave the time, maturity, and work ethic to be able to survive in my brutal field.

Q: Who are your key mentors since graduation?

A: Dr. Unlap was the first person I was able to see guide me directly into my future first. Since then, there have been very few but if I had to pick one recently who molded me, guided me, yelled at me when I needed it, and disciplined me would be Timothy Wu, M.D., director, Vascular Surgery Fellowship at Rutgers University. But Dr. Unlap, again the first person to ever take direct care into my education.