Meet 2020 Uplifting Athletes Young Investigator Draft presented by CSL Behring research grant recipient Dr. Abhishek Mangaokar

The Young Investigator Draft is the result of Uplifting Athletes’ ongoing commitment to cultivate resources that accelerate scientific advancements for rare disease treatments and potential cures while facilitating the next generation of rare disease researchers.

To learn more about the 2020 Young Investigator Draft presented by CSL Behring and to purchase tickets click here.

Researcher: Dr. Abhishek Mangaonkar

Young Investigator Institution: Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota

Education: Dr. Mangaonkar graduated from Grant Medical College in Mumbai, India with a Bachelor of Medicine and a Bachelor of Surgery; was a resident physician in internal medicine from 2013-2016 and since July of 2016, has worked as a Blood and Marrow Transplant Fellow (PGY-7) at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Research: Dr. Mangaonkar research interest is to study clinical and biologic aspects of inherited bone marrow failure syndromes, including telomere disorders, and mechanisms of clonal evolution/progression into myeloid neoplasms. Early in his fellowship, after encountering a challenging patient scenario, he developed an interest in studying clinical characteristics, natural history and the biology of myeloid neoplasms. This research led to several first-authored publications and a competitive external foundation (American Society of Clinical Oncology) Young Investigator Award and Grant. For the last two years, Dr. Mangaonkar has been involved with the bone marrow failure precision genomics clinic, which is a unique collaboration between clinicians, geneticists, molecular biologists and bioinformaticians.

In Their Words: “I was always interested in research from when I was in Medical School and also in my residency training when I first started working in the lab. That led me to see myself as a more hybrid physician-scientist. I knew it would be difficult, but I am on the path now and that’s what I’m actively working toward. As I finish up my clinical training, I plan to apply for a full research position. I want to obtain some mentor training for a few years and hopefully open my own lab in 3-4 years from now where I can focus on being a physician-scientist with a focus on rare blood disorders.”

A native of Mumbai (formerly Bombay), India, Dr. Mangaonkar spent the first six years of his medical training in his native country at Grant Medical College.

By the time he was done with his initial medical training, Dr. Mangaonkar knew what he wanted. And it was not going to be an easy path, either.

Dr. Mangaonkar wanted to be a physician-scientist. Growing up he always wanted to be a physician. That was the easy part. What he discovered during his initial medical schooling was the scientist side of the industry was very appealing.

And in order to get the best training and education available in the world, he knew staying in India was not the best option.

“There are two main reasons, but the most important was I wanted to train as a physician-scientist and the United States is the best place for that training,” said Dr. Mangaonkar, an only child who considers himself a big fan of cricket. “The training in hematology and oncology was not as developed as much in India back in 2013 when I finished school. That’s why I decided to come here. Those are the two main reasons. Most importantly, I wanted to be a physician-scientist.”

Already a hematologist-oncologist, Dr. Mangaonkar is now training to become a bone marrow transplant specialist as well.

Watch this engaging video and sample Dr. Mangaonkar’s passion for research and his drive to use science as part of the equation for the disease puzzles he’s working to solve.

Despite his intense fire and passion as a researcher, being a physician and helping patients – what drove him to choose his career path – still has the most impact.

“I deal with a lot of patients with rare cancers and rare diseases. These are life defining illnesses,” said Dr. Mangaonkar, who met his fiancé, Jennifer Pierce, in Minnesota and is getting married later this year. “We are not able to change all the outcomes with treatments and we know that. You build long lasting bonds with patients, though, and we are with them in their most difficult times.

“It is important to me that you learn from every patient. Through trying to help them and learning, that helps you in the lab on the research side. They feed into each other and that’s why being a physician-scientist, despite it becoming more difficult to complete the training today, is so important to me.”

Dr. Mangaonkar was nominated for a 2020 Uplifting Athletes’ Young Investigator Draft grant on behalf of Team Telomere. The mission of Team Telomere is to provide information and support services to families worldwide affected by Dyskeratosis Congenita and Telomere Biology Disorders, to encourage the medical community’s research in finding causes and effective treatments, and to facilitate improved diagnosis by educating medical providers.

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