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February 3, 2017

Faculty Spotlight: Sona Vasudevan

Faculty Spotlight: Sona Vasudevan

I spent the early years of my life in south India and completed part of my education in Chennai. I had the opportunity to work with several leading scientists who were also great educators, and they deeply influenced my views on teaching and research.

I visit India every year and have had the opportunity to interact with some great minds there. I’ve initiated several ongoing scientific and educational projects, as well as student recruitment activities at Indian universities, including the University of Madras in Chennai, Sastra University in Trichy, Sathyabama University in Chennai, and VIT University in Vellore. I recently facilitated the expansion of these types of collaboration to include SRM University in Chennai and DY Patil University in Mumbai. In 2015, I provided research training to an exchange student from Sastra University for six months.I have represented Georgetown University in India on several occasions, with the mission of increasing student awareness in the growing field of informatics. I traveled to Chennai in 2011 with a delegation from Georgetown, where we signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Sathyabama University in order to conduct collaborative bioinformatics workshops. I am currently working with students and faculty at Sathyabama University to curate a structural ligand database.

This past fall, I joined Caroline Goon, director of biomedical graduate student recruitment at Georgetown University’s Biomedical Graduate Education Program, and Dr. Robert Clark, Georgetown’s dean for research, on a trip to India to establish formal educational and research collaborations with several universities. During this trip, we represented Georgetown University at EduFest (one of India’s largest career festivals in Mumbai), signed an MOU with Sathyabama University for student and faculty exchanges, and visited DY Patil University and SRM University to initiate research and student exchange collaborations.

During my time at Georgetown, I have engaged Indian exchange students and continue to celebrate cultural diversity in our department, which hosts over 100 master students per year. I organize a yearly Diwali party in celebration of India’s Festival of Lights, where we offer a variety of Indian cuisine, and participate in traditional dancing and singing. I would love to make this a university-wide event in the future.

Sona Vasudevan is a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Cellular Biology at Georgetown University’s Medical Center whose work primarily focuses on application of informatics to cancer and inflammatory bowel diseases. She also directs the M.D./M.S. and M.S. programs in systems medicine. She holds a Ph.D. in biophysics from the University of Toronto, Canada.